Sunday, January 31, 2016

Local Food Practices and Growing Potential: Mapping the Case of Philadelphia

The globalization of food systems, which is characterized by dependence on mechanization, fuel, fertilizers, and pesticides, causes many issues. Some of these issues are purely economic, such as deforestation, overuse of cropland, soil, and water pollution, and biodiversity loss. There have also been reports of recurring outbreaks of infectious diseases, and epidemics of obesity and diabetes. In order to change the trajectory of these globalized food systems, the practice of developing local food systems has sparked a movement.

Local food systems advocate for better health, nutrition, and lifestyle, along with social justice and food security, land preservation, environmental conservation, community and economic development, and urban greening. All in all, local food systems would be a great thing to bring to communities. Many scholars have researched sustainable food systems in local communities, but it wasn't until recently that research suggested combining remote sensing and GIS methods to in the analysis of urban green environments. Even though there has been research conducted on local food systems, urban areas have neglected to be studied.

Through informal interviews in Philadelphia, data was collected on the location and roles of different components of the food system itself. The above figure illustrates the geographic overlay of the components of the urban food system and the median income dataset. This map show that in Philadelphia, over 50% of the foods producing community gardens are found within the lowest income neighborhoods. Although this is the case, the local food movement targets middle and high-income populations. After more research was conducted, it was found that portions of the land that is occupied by grass and bare soil has the potential for food production, thus increasing the potential for local food systems.    

Kremer, P., & Deliberty, T. L. (2011). Local food practices and growing potential: Mapping the case of Philadelphia. Applied Geography, 31(4), 1252-1261.


  1. It's really interesting that the local food producing community attracted the lower income neighborhoods than the middle or high class neighborhoods. It would be interesting to find out if it's because the food is cheaper than the supermarket, because of convenience, or health benefits of local food.

  2. Did the article say anything about planting local gardens on the flat rooftops of the inner city buildings? There would be a dual benefit to this because it would allow the vegetation to attract the sunlight and cut the energy bills while providing local food to the areas that need it.

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