Planning toward sustainable food systems

An exploratory assessment of local U.S. food system plans

Authors

  • Jane Karetny The Ohio State University
  • Casey Hoy The Ohio State University
  • Kareem M. Usher The Ohio State University
  • Jill K. Clark The Ohio State University
  • Maria Manta Conroy The Ohio State University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.008

Keywords:

Food System Evaluation, Food System Plans, Food Policy, Food Security, Urban Planning, Regional Planning, Sustainability

Abstract

National planning and health organizations agree that to achieve healthy and sustainable food systems, planners must balance goals across a spectrum of sustainability issues that include economic vitality, public health, ecological sustainability, social equity, and cultural diversity. This research is an assessment of government-adopted food system plans in the U.S. that examines which topics, across the three dimensions of sustainability (social, environmental, and economic), are included in local food system plans and conducts an exploratory analysis that asks whether the community capitals (built, cultural, social, financial, human, and natural) available in a community are associated with the content of food system plans. The research team first developed a Sustainable Food System Policy Index made up of 26 policy areas across the three dimensions that, in aggregate, define and operationalize sustainable food systems. With this index we evaluated a sample of 28 food system plans for inclusion of these policy impact areas. We then performed an exploratory regression analysis to examine whether the availability of community capitals was associated with the content of food system plans. Findings indicated that jurisdictions integrated a broad range of issues into their food system plans; however, there are certain issues across every dimension of sustainability that are much less frequently included in plans, such as strategies related to participation in decision-making, financial infrastructure, and the stewardship of natural resources. Regression analysis identified statistically significant linear relationships between particular capitals and the proportion of policy areas included in plans. In particular, higher metrics associated with poverty were associated with the inclusion of fewer policy areas and with a potentially narrower policy agenda. This study adds to the plan evaluation literature as one of the first attempts to document the content of a sample of U.S. food system plans through a sustainability lens, contributing to the knowledge of what types of issues are advanced by local food system plans and the policy implications of current gaps in planning agendas.

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Author Biographies

Jane Karetny, The Ohio State University

Agroecosystems Manage­ment Program, College of Food, Agricultural and Environ­mental Sciences, City and Regional Planning, Knowlton School of Architecture

Casey Hoy, The Ohio State University

Agroecosystems Management Program and Department of Entomology, College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences

Kareem M. Usher, The Ohio State University

City and Regional Planning, Knowlton School of Architecture

Jill K. Clark, The Ohio State University

John Glenn College of Public Affairs

Maria Manta Conroy, The Ohio State University

City and Regional Planning, Knowlton School of Architecture

Published

2022-09-02

How to Cite

Karetny, J., Hoy, C., Usher, K., Clark, J., & Conroy, M. (2022). Planning toward sustainable food systems: An exploratory assessment of local U.S. food system plans. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(4), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.008

Issue

Section

Open Call Paper