Food Systems Planning

 Like air, water, and shelter, food is essential for life and plays a central role in our health, economy, and culture.  The food system (the production, transformation, distribution, access, and consumption of food and the associated waste) greatly impacts the overall public, environmental, and economic health of a community.  The presence or absence of a local and regional functioning food system greatly influences the availability of nutritious, affordable food in a community.  Planners have the potential to play a significant role in community food systems planning which is a collaborative planning process of developing and implementing local and regional land use, economic development, public health, and environmental goals, programs and policies that contribute to the sustainability and effectiveness of local food systems.

The interconnectedness of the food system makes it difficult to separate out any one thing, from scale to geography, or culture to government. Topic areas of the food system are generally derived as functional parts of the system. They include:

Land based: agriculture, farmland preservation, zoning, urban agriculture, design
Environment: water, soil, natural resources, energy, biodiversity, waste
Economy: distribution, processing, retail, jobs, investment, globalization
Education: consumer, academic, youth
Policy: government and institutional operations and funding that affect food systems
Social justice: food access, community food security, hunger, labor
Health: diet, disease, personal habits, cultural habits,
Food cultures: ethnic traditions, farmers markets, regional identity, history, culinary and cooking skills.