New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Urban agriculture in Chicago does not allow consumers to rely solely on local food

Date:
February 3, 2021
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Environmentally conscious consumers try to 'buy local' when food shopping. Now, a study of food raised around Chicago has shown that buying local can't provide all necessary nutrients for area residents, though it could fulfill their needs if some nutrients were supplied as supplements.
Share:
FULL STORY

Environmentally conscious consumers try to "buy local" when food shopping. Now, a study of food raised around Chicago has shown that buying local can't provide all necessary nutrients for area residents, though it could fulfill their needs if some nutrients were supplied as supplements. The researchers report in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology that urban agriculture made little difference in reducing overall land area, and thus distance, required to supply all nutritional needs.

As the U.S. population continues to flow to urban regions, consumers are moving farther from farms and croplands. This limits nutrient recycling and drives up emissions associated with transporting food. In addition, urban centers can develop "food deserts" where residents can't purchase nutritious food close to home. One potential solution is urban agriculture, which repurposes space within cities -- such as vacant lots and rooftops -- to grow crops. Christine Costello and colleagues wanted to know the impact of urban agriculture on enabling people living within a range of distances from Chicago's center to eat local food, yet meet their complete nutritional needs.

The team considered 28 nutrients, the amount of available land, a variety of crops and livestock, a range of crop yields and both conventional and urban agriculture in the analysis. They drew circles on a map around Chicago with increasing radii, up to 400 miles, the maximum distance the U.S. government deems "local." Within that perimeter around Chicago, no mix of locally raised crops and livestock could satisfy all nutritional needs of the population. However, if D and B12 vitamins could be provided as supplements, a radius as small as 65 miles was sufficient. Urban agriculture could provide an important nutritional benefit by increasing diet diversity and availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. But it would only slightly reduce the radius (and land area) needed for supplying nearly complete nutrition locally, the researchers say.


Story Source:

Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christine Costello, Zeynab Oveysi and Ronald McGarvey. Assessment of the Effect of Urban Agriculture on Achieving a Localized Food System Centered on Chicago, IL Using Robust Optimization. ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, 2021 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c04118

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Urban agriculture in Chicago does not allow consumers to rely solely on local food." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 February 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210203090548.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2021, February 3). Urban agriculture in Chicago does not allow consumers to rely solely on local food. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 19, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210203090548.htm
American Chemical Society. "Urban agriculture in Chicago does not allow consumers to rely solely on local food." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/02/210203090548.htm (accessed July 19, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily

RELATED STORIES