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CHAPTER 16 Embedding Food Systems into the Built Environment janine de la salle, principal, urb an food strategies introduction The increasing sophistication and complexity of the global food system presents a paradox: on one hand, the planet has never produced as much food as it does now, and on the other, the rates of hunger, malnutrition, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease have soared in the Global North over the past three decades (Food and Agriculture Organization 2012). These health impacts are concentrated in urban environments. For planners, health practitioners, and other city builders, this paradox creates a strong impetus to not only understand the inextricable links between food, health, and the urban built environment but also to integrate regional food systems into the built environment as a core population health strategy. As a result of the significant health, economic, and environmental benefits linked to strong regional food systems, food provides an important lens or key organizing principle for the healthy built environment. Prerail cities were (are) fundamentally shaped around regional and international food systems. From using fields outside the city for fattening cattle, to establishing ports that imported and exported foods from distant lands, to 266 community health and policy perspectives designing streets and creating food districts, early urban planners, architects, and landscape architects responded to the regional and international food system in the planning and design of streets, buildings, and open spaces prior to technological developments in transportation systems. In this way, prerail cities have been shaped by regional and international food systems from their earliest days (Steel 2008). Modern agriculture and global food systems have also facilitated a population shift to urban areas by enabling food to travel longer distances, be stored for longer periods, and ultimately feed a growing number of people. Asfoodsystemsglobalized,transportationandstoragetechnologiesevolved as well, and cities were no longer constrained by largely regional food systems. City-building professionals, including urban planners, engineers, architects, professors, and politicians, have since fallen silent on the connection between health, food, and the success of towns and cities; indeed, these professions have traditionally treated food much like sleep: it is necessary but not meant to be regulated or managed in any meaningful way. Urban planners and health authorities are beginning to collaborate on identifying the key strategies, performance metrics, and evidence-based research relating to these linkages in order to support local government decision making and community development. Specifically, more attention is being paid to understanding the links between the urban built environment, health, and regional food systems, as part of developing preventive health strategies. While there is a large bibliography on the many dimensions of health and the built environment (e.g., housing, transportation infrastructure, buildings, etc.), including food as a link is a relatively new area of exploration (Tucs and Dempster 2007). This chapter explores the links between health and the built environment, draws from North American case studies, and provides a framework for developing local strategies to build a healthy environment. links between health, food, and the built environment The links between health, regional food systems, and the built environment are manifested in behaviors that are shaped by the physical environment. For example, walking to the corner store or green grocer to buy nutritious food Embedding Food Systems into the Built Environment 267 decreases the need to drive, improving air quality and increasing opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. Planning for more walkable and compact communities also reduces development pressure on farmland on the periphery of growing metropolitan areas. Table 12 describes a range of health outcomes as they relate to opportunities in the healthy built environment . Strategies to create a healthy built environment vis-à-vis food systems are discussed in the following sections. a new lexicon for planning and design Food in the built environment has been understood largely in terms of geographic access to food sources including grocery stores, community gardens, and so forth. In many ways, drawing the linkages between health and the built environment is a return to the emergence of urban planning as a response to a public health crisis caused by unhealthy environments. Because of the spread of contagious diseases resulting from overcrowding in tenement buildings in New York City at the turn of the last century, new regulations for land use and buildings were imposed to control both private and public spaces. These changes gave birth to zoning, and the regulatory landscape for the built environment in the West was changed. Health Canada developed a comprehensive definition of the...


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