“At a time when most of us strive to reconnect with the source of our food, Jennifer Cockrall-King delves straight to the root of our food systems, bringing to light the potential of small-scale urban agriculture to feed the masses. She makes a global issue seem manageable by citing actions of self-sufficiency—from community gardens to backyard bees, our collective steps toward sustainability are transforming our relationship with the food on our plates.”
-Julie Van Rosendaal, cookbook author, TV host, and blogger at dinnerwithjulie.com
When you’re standing in the midst of a supermarket, it’s hard to imagine that you’re looking at a failing industrial food system. The abundance all around you looks impressive but is really a facade. In fact, there’s just a three-day supply of food available for any given city due to complex, just-in-time international supply chains. The system is not only vulnerable, given the reality of food scares, international crises, terrorist attacks, economic upheavals, and natural disasters, but it is also environmentally unsustainable for the long term. As the cold hard facts of peak oil and peak water begin to have an impact, how will we feed a world population of seven billion and growing, most of whom are now urban dwellers?
One answer is urban agriculture. Food and the City examines alternative food systems in cities around the globe that are shortening their food chains, growing food within their city limits, and taking their “food security” into their own hands. Award-winning food journalist Jennifer Cockrall-King sought out leaders in the urban-agriculture movement and visited cities successfully dealing with “food deserts.” What she found was not just a niche concern of activists but a global movement that cuts across the private and public spheres, economic classes, and cultures.
She describes a global movement happening from London and Paris to Vancouver and New York to establish alternatives to the monolithic globally integrated supermarket model. A cadre of forward-looking, innovative people has created growing spaces in cities: on rooftops, backyards, vacant lots, along roadways, and even in “vertical farms.” Whether it’s a community public orchard supplying the needs of local residents or an urban farm that has reclaimed a derelict inner city lot to grow and sell premium market veggies to restaurant chefs, the urban food revolution is clearly underway and working.
Food and the City is an exciting, fascinating chronicle of a game-changing movement, a rebellion against the industrial food behemoth, and a reclaiming of communities to grow, distribute, and eat locally.
“All over the world I’ve watched urban dwellers begin to figure out that they can start growing food, too. It’s one of the loveliest trends on earth, and Jennifer Cockall-King does a fine job of capturing its swelling growth.”
-Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“Today’s industrial food systems are unsustainable and harmful to communities all over the world. This insightful book delves deeply into the problems and solutions that will come to define food in the years ahead.”
-Chef Michael Smith, author and Food Network Canada host
“It seems that all the slick, trendy publications, sites, and bloggers have recently discovered the idea of urban agriculture. As Jennifer Cockrall-King points out, this is not a new movement at all. Quietly, many communities have encouraged growing food in the city as a way to both feed themselves delicious, unprocessed food and help foster an environmental awareness and ethos. This book is full of great examples and resources for city dwellers. After reading it you’ll want to round up your neighbors and start planting!”
-John Ash, James Beard award-winning author and chef
“Jennifer Cockrall-King makes a compelling and inspiring case that small-scale, urban farming may be the key to fixing our broken industrialized food system.”
-Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit
“Motivated to learn more about the seemingly ‘overnight interest’ in urban food production, Cockrall-King, a Canadian journalist, set off on a worldwide tour, and her informed impressions make up this fascinating snapshot of the contemporary urban-agriculture movement….this illuminating title should be essential reading for anyone interested in food safety, urban sustainability, and how to eat closer to home.”
Prometheus Books, February 2012