Sunday, February 1, 2015

Local Food in Philadelphia

In an effort to downplay the effects of world food production ranging from increased hunger and malnourishment, many cities are embracing local food as an alternative to eating food with higher "food mileage" (food from places more than 400 miles away). So what does "local" really mean? Local is generally considered to be within a 100-400 mile radius (the USDA claims 400 as their number). Food that is locally based is generally more sustainable. Local food consists of farms, farmers' markets, roadside stands, and specialty stores/restaurants. A good way to produce food locally in an urban setting is to create community gardens. This can be accomplished by estimating land availability/vegetation via aerial photography (often infrared). In this particular study of Philadelphia, the collected data was categorized, mapped, and analyzed in ArcGIS. Upon study of this data, it was found that most of Philadelphia's community gardens were located in lower income areas. This is good because those areas are the most susceptible to food deserts (large distances to locations where food can be obtained or if it is present, it may not be the most "healthful") and this can lower the chances of a food desert forming. But community gardens aren't the only urban locations where one can find local food. Urban farms are immensely popular; the Philadelphia urban farms named are Mill Creek, Teens 4 Good, and Wyck Family Farm. These farms' purposes range from educational to nonprofit meant for youth empowerment, and dedication to preservation and history. So once these kinds of local food destinations are up and running, how will their potential production be ascertained? Remote sensing can be used to do so then used to find grassy and bare soil amounts in these areas, residential or not. In conclusion, a conversation about local food cannot happen without spatial analysis and mapping being mentioned as well.

Peleg Kremer, Tracy L. DeLiberty (2011): Local food practices and growing potential: Mapping the case of Philadelphia, Applied Geography 30, 1252-1261


  1. There is an article about "food wastelands" in New Zealand similar to the food deserts mentioned here, large areas of land where necessary facilities, such as grocery stores, are unavailable for a large area of land. Local food is more sustainable, and when food is more sustainable then it is more natural (usually because they dont have to use chemicals that make the fruit/vegetables rippen, because most produce imported from other countries, Peru, etc., is picked before it is ripe and then chemically ripened on the way to being imported). The local food producation areas in Philadelphia were discovered to be more common in low income areas, which is beneficial for that particular area because they have an easier access to food, whereas the higher income areas typically have cars or transportation and therefore can acquire food and produce that is in other areas more easily.

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  3. While it is important to have local food, one has to wonder how big of an impact this change has on other countries, especially the ones providing the food. This will not only have an effect on the actual farmers who are growing the crops, but also on the companies that are transporting the produce in question. Changes, which might be good for one area, can create a ripple effect as a result of those changes, which might not be good for other areas.