Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Can Atlanta feed itself?

The American Farmland Trust recently entertained the question "Can San Francisco feed itself with local food from farms within 100 miles?  The study looked at the agricultural productivity of the area, assessed the agricultural land availability, the food consumption of the San Francisco Bay area, and the food distribution systems that feed the area.

While the San Francisco area produces a significant amount of food, the study found there still exists a disconnect between the farm and the local consumer, as is a common theme in the US.  Some of the key findings included a need to shift the industrial, large scale production to a production system that supports smaller scales of production that can meet the needs of a variety of consumers, rather than a few institutional consumers.  Other items outlined are a need to address the distribution systems with new processing and transportation infrastructure and new and different markets to purchase and consume the local food.

So this leads to  the topic of this blog, can the Atlanta region feed itself completely with local food?  
While currently the answer is clearly no, entertaining the question helps shed light on our current local food production and consumption systems and helps lead to questions worth exploring to fix the region's deficiencies.  Do we have the agricultural production to feed the 4.1 million people that call the Atlanta region home?  If we did produce enough food for the region, could we easily and equitably move the food from farm to buyer?  Given the the current diets and eating habits, can the crops and seasonality of food meet the needs and demands of the area's residents?

If the Atlanta region is to truely embrace sustainablity, the area needs to begin pursuing similar studies to the one conducted for the San Fran area and begin addressing the changes needed to meet the food needs of our metropolitan region.

Just some food for thought.