Exploring the transformative potential of urban food

Date 13 Dec, 2021

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We need to think differently about the value(s) of urban food practices to cities, as they have great potential for sustainability transformations. Research on urban food is often place-based, limiting its large-scale applicability. This article offers insights as to how to change that.

Urban food is a key lever for transformative change towards sustainability. While research reporting on the urban food practices (UFPs) in support of sustainability is increasing, the link towards transformative potential is lacking. This is because research on urban food is often place-based and contextual. This limits the applicability of insights to large-scale sustainability transformations.

This paper describes UFPs that aim to contribute to transformative change. We present signposts for potential change based on the types of intended transformative changes as described in the reviewed literature based on the processes and outcomes of the urban food policies and programmes. Secondly, we classify diverse UFPs to elevate them beyond their local, place-based contexts.

We find that UFPs carry a lot of potential to facilitate sustainability transformations. Based on that analysis, we provide insights on how urban food research can further contribute to harnessing the transformative potential of UFPs for actionable purposes.

Hebinck, A., Selomane, O., Veen, E. et al. Exploring the transformative potential of urban food. npj Urban Sustain 1, 38 (2021).

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