Many U.S. Metro Areas Could Grow All the Food They Need Locally

Color-Coded Urban Centers US Map

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A brand-new modeling research study discovers that city centers in green might feed themselves with cultivated cropland situated within a typical range of 250 kilometers (155 miles), however city centers in yellow, orange and red would require to draw from larger locations – 250 kilometers or more. Credit: Tufts University

Some however not all U.S. city locations might grow all the food they require in your area, according to a brand-new research study approximating the degree to which the American food supply might be localized based upon population, location, and diet plan.

The modeling research study, led by Christian Peters at the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, is released today (September 14, 2020) in Environmental Science & Technology.

The design approximates whether 378 cities might fulfill their food requires from regional farming land situated within 250 kilometers (155 miles). Local capacity was approximated based upon 7 various diet plans, consisting of the existing normal American diet plan.

The results recommend:

  • Metro centers in the Northwest and interior of the nation have the best capacity for localization.
  • Large parts of the population along the Eastern Seaboard and the southwest corner of the U.S. would have the least capacity for localization.
  • Surplus land existed under all diet plan situations, raising concerns about the very best usage of land for conference health, ecological, and financial objectives.

“Not everyone lives near enough agricultural land to have an entirely local or even regional food supply. Most cities along the Eastern Seaboard and in the southwest corner of the U.S. could not meet their food needs locally, even if every available acre of agricultural land was used for local food production. Yet, many cities in the rest of the country are surrounded by ample land to support local and regional food systems,” stated Peters, senior author and associate teacher at the Friedman School, whose research study concentrates on sustainability science.

Peters and his group likewise designed 7 various diet plans to approximate whether dietary modifications might make a distinction in the possible to produce adequate food for a city location. The diet plans varied from the existing normal American diet plan, which is high in meat, to vegan. Reducing animal items in the diet plan increased the possible to produce all food in your area, approximately a point. Diets with less than half the existing intake of meat supported comparable levels of localization possible, whether omnivore or vegetarian. Consumption of meat (beef, pork, chicken and turkey) for the standard normal American diet plan was approximated at approximately 5 ounces daily.

“There would be different ways to do it. Imagine, if we cut back to fewer than two and a half ounces per day by serving smaller portions of meat and replacing some meat-centric entrees with plant-based alternatives, like lentils, beans and nuts. More diverse sources of protein could open new possibilities for local food. Nutrition research tells us that there could be some health benefits, too,” stated matching author Julie Kurtz, who was a master’s degree trainee at the Friedman School at the time of the research study.

Under all the diet plan situations, the design forecasted the United States having a surplus of land for conference domestic food requirements. In the existing American farming system, some farmland is utilized for biofuels and export crops. The scientists explain that if city centers concentrated on consuming in your area, numerous farming locations would deal with brand-new concerns about regional land usage top priorities.

“It would be important to make sure policies for supporting local or regional food production benefit conservation and create opportunities for farmers to adopt more sustainable practices. Policies should also recognize the capacity of the natural resources in a given locale or region — and consider the supply chain, including capacity for food processing and storage,” Peters stated.

Economic performance for food production was beyond the scope of the analysis. Also, the research study is based upon existing conditions and does rule out how future environment modification might impact future farming capacity.

Reference: “Mapping U.S. food system localization potential: The impact of diet on foodsheds” byKurtz, J.E., Woodbury, P.B., Ahmed, Z.U., & Peters, C. J., 14 September 2020, Environmental Science & Technology.
DOI: 10.1021/10.1021/acs.est.9b07582

Additional authors on the research study are Peter B. Woodbury of Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ithaca, NY and Zia U. Ahmed of University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.

This work was supported by moneying from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for the task, “Foodprints and Foodsheds: Tools for Evaluating the Sustainability of Dietary Patterns and the Geography of the Food System.” The authors revealed no disputes of interest.

About the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

The Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is the only independent school of nutrition in the United States. The school’s 5 departments – which concentrate on concerns associating with nutrition and persistent illness, molecular nutrition, farming and sustainability, food security, humanitarian support, public health nutrition, and food policy and economics – are renowned for the application of clinical research study to nationwide and global policy.

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