Architecture Contributes to Better Food Supply

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Robison Wells
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In her book, Food Routes: Growing Bananas in Iceland and Other Tales from the Logistics of Eating (2019), Robyn Shotwell Metcalfe refers to the paradox of catching fish in New England, exported them to Japan, then shipping them back as sushi; this reveals a large and complex network, invisible to those who order Japanese takeout.

Author Rafael Tonon (From the Farm to the City) estimates that 95% of food in the United States travels 1,600 kilometers before reaching stores. To put that in perspective, Brazil ships 2.4 trillion ton-kilometers of food yearly, 65% by land and 26% by water.

Advocates of farm-to-table eating believe the shorter the mileage, the healthier and fresher the food. Reduced travel increases quality and lessens waste.

For the most part, large cities don't have farms or gardens; they can't feed their entire populations. Architects are examining new—and some old—initiatives to grow food in urban populations' proximity.

A Paris skyscraper opened a 14,000 square foot garden on its roof, the largest in Europe, perhaps in the world. Growers produced more than a thousand varieties of fruits and vegetables.

An NYC-based Superfarm resides in a six-story greenhouse; farmers focus production on the culture of foods with high nutritional value.

China intends to feed some of Shanghai's nearly 24-million residents with the Sunquaio Urban Agricultural District, a 100-hectare master-planned greenhouse community.

San Francisco financially incentivizes urban farming by granting residents a property tax break if they open a portion of their land for communal gardening.

Although the gold standard of farm-to-table fare seems unattainable, some communities continue to strive for fresh, proximal food in even the most forbidding locations.

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