A great resource for understanding the possibilities of urban agriculture and international food security, Ladner situates food at the centre of many contemporary issues such as oil dependency, obesity, climate change and the loss of farmland. His argument is that by finding solutions to urban food issues, many of the other challenges we face can also be addressed.
Each chapter of The Urban Food Revolution tackles a different topic and provides a detailed overview of the main issues and opportunities associated with it. Community Supported Agriculture programs, the economic obstacles facing farmers, community gardens, farmers’ markets, food deserts and the challenges plaguing modern food systems comprise some of the topics explored. These larger concepts are rounded out by Ladner’s guidance on relevant policy issues, including zoning concerns, new urban design paradigms and examples of jurisdictions that have support sound local food strategies.
Each chapter reads like a magazine article, with excerpts from interviews, real-world examples in practice from across North America, anecdotes and useful, up-to-date statistics from as recent as 2010. Ladner draws on websites, newspapers, journal articles and other sources to paint a picture of the vast landscape of obstacles related to feeding people in Canada and across North America.
For example, Ladner illuminates the troubling challenge of food deserts, which plague low-income neighbourhoods of cities across North America. These areas are considered to be too dangerous for a supermarket, leaving already disadvantaged residents with only access to convenience stores and fast food restaurants if they don’t own a vehicle. Arguing for the foundational role that access to fresh fruit and vegetables can play in improving livelihoods and building safer cities, Ladner draws connections between a lack of healthy food and criminal behaviour.
The Urban Food Revolution serves as a very useful starting point for readers who want to become more involved in finding solutions to modern food issues. Urban gardeners, city councilors, parents, teachers and others will find Ladner’s book to be a comprehensive overview of how they can influence food security issues in their backyard, city hall, family or classroom.
The Urban Food Revolution, Peter Ladner, Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 2011, 304 pages
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