Agriculture in Cities Is Already Common

Originally published in The Boston Globe

June 22, 2011
Melissa Hoffer (Vice President, Conservation Law Foundation, Boston, Letter to the Editor)

Edward L. Glaeser’s op-ed ("The locavore’s dilemma; Urban farms do more harm than good to the environment," June 16) glosses over the fact that, according to the Worldwatch Institute, over 800 million people worldwide currently engage in some form of urban agriculture already, producing an estimated 15 to 20 percent of global food supply. The world’s population is predominantly and increasingly urban, and, I think Glaeser would agree, that’s a good thing. City dwellers collectively consume less energy and have smaller carbon footprints than their rural and suburban counterparts.
More decentralized urban agriculture can increase carbon resilience and food security. This is increasingly critical as climate fluctuation and growing population pressures affect predictability of national and global food supply, and as energy, topsoil, water, and phosphate fertilizers become more limited. The multiple challenges of climate change, economic downturn, and poor health related to obesity and lack of access to fresh healthy foods share in common the need for a radically re-envisioned food system. Urban agriculture isn’t the problem — it’s part of the solution.
Melissa Hoffer
Vice president,
Conservation Law Foundation