Regional Food System Assessment

This past semester’s Community Food Systems class in UVa’s Department of Urban and Environmental Planning conducted an extensive study of the food system in Central Virginia in order to assess how able we are to provide ourselves with food. The resulting paper (684k PDF) is just wonderful. They looked at farms, distributors, grocery stores, restaurants and food banks to determine where our food comes from, how much it costs, and to whom it’s accessible. The document concludes by identifying seventeen barriers to food production, processing, distribution, consumption and waste, with each accompanied by recommendations for how those barriers can be overcome. Along the way there are some fascinating maps and research results that provide a revealing look at Charlottesville’s demographics.

I’m having a hard time describing this without making it sound dry. In fact, this is forty seven page document is very much worth your time. I believe it’s the most interesting thing I’ve read about Charlottesville in quite some time—I’ll be chewing over these results for months.

07/06 Update: Dang, I knew this seemed familiar — Sean Tubbs interviewed the class members back in May, in a twenty-five minute story.

3 thoughts on “Regional Food System Assessment”

  1. Interesting I agree.

    So there’s an apiary in Charlottesville city proper? Howard’s Honey, 297-9911 it says.

    In case you think the project is tilting at windmills, then you may have read the Harpers article about Wal-mart. One of its next monopsonistic plans is to take over the distributors that supply mom-n-pop convenience stores. Start with lower prices, then when Cathy’s, etc., are out of the way, rule us with bad, cheap food.

    Enough tilting at windmills and we can knock them down, perhaps. But people just love a bargain, and how to leverage that I do not know. Some smart gov’t intervention could carry a lot more weight than grassroots consumer activism, methinks. At least in the short run. Gov’t programs tend to get stuck in time. Anyway, the city schools & UVa could do a lot to support good agriculture as a power buyer.

    NYT article about organic food at Yale…
    A Dining Hall Where Students Sneak In

  2. Thank you for the link, I look forward to it. I’m impressed with how much positive buzz I’ve heard about this class’s work. I think people really understand how important safe, healthy, reliable food is. Kudos to Mr. Beatley, Ms. Cobb, and the students for their insight and good work.

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