Greater Philadelphia Food System Study

Posted by on February 01, 2010

Local Food Economy is Focus of New Study

DVRPC recently completed the Greater Philadelphia Food System Study, a project that evaluates the food system comprising the nine-county region. This study looked at a broad range of food supply issues, such as agricultural production trends, natural resource constraints, the origins and destinations of food imports and exports, and the significance of the food economy. For the purposes of this study, DVRPC defined the metropolitan area’s “food shed” as a 100-mile radius from a center point in downtown Philadelphia – this is the area in which Greater Philadelphia could hypothetically source local food.

Findings of significance include:

* The nine-county region cannot subsist on local foods alone because Greater Philadelphia’s food demand is greater than the 100-Mile Foodshed’s food supply.
* Local agriculture benefits from Philadelphia’s consumer markets; but the DVRPC nine-county region is losing viable farmland each year to inefficient land use.
* The Greater Philadelphia region has fewer aggregate food dollars than other nearby metro areas. This increases our food supply deficit, as some suppliers prefer selling food for higher prices in the New York and Washington D.C. metro areas and not in the DVRPC nine-county region.
* An American culture of cheap, processed, and convenient food has led to a culture of unhealthy food.
* Recently, efforts to strengthen the regional food system have been gaining momentum. Interest in local foods, land trusts, and urban agriculture are all indicative of positive changes for the nine-county region.

DVRPC’s Greater Philadelphia Food System Study will be followed by the Plan for a More Sustainable Food System, to be completed in the summer of 2010.The plan will use the results of the study to identify recommendations for improvement and create a vision for a more sustainable and resilient food system for Greater Philadelphia.

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