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- January 1, 2008 - December 31, 2008
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impact statement impact
- Through publications, presentations, and news releases to the popular press, we have brought the linkage of human nutrition and local land resources to the attention of scientists and consumers. This work has supported efforts by Cornell Cooperative Extension to explore and promote the development of local food systems throughout the state. The work is now attracting national attention and we are developing plans to expand our modeling approach to study the food system of the contiguous United States.
impact statement issue
- Our agricultural system currently provides a cheap and abundant supply of food. However, agriculture also causes negative impacts on the environment, rural economies, and human health. Greenhouse gases associated with long-distance transport of food are just one example of the complicated and interacting factors that are involved. Local food systems may help address some of the problems by more closely linking the needs of consumers, producers, and the natural resource base. When agricultural production potential is linked to health-related nutritional needs of humans, the local land resource base, and the local population's needs for food, the structure of actual and possible food production systems that both protect the environment and meet basic human needs for a balanced diet can be determined. Agricultural producers, economic development specialists, and consumers should all be interested in the possible benefits that emerge from a careful and detailed analysis of such models. Our research seeks to estimate the potential to meet local food needs with local land resources in New York state using models that consider human nutritional requirements, the productive potential of available land, the economic value of land in different types of agriculture, and sustainable crop-livestock rotations. In the process, the preponderance of dairy systems in New York State can be evaluated in terms of the actual local food needs in a balanced diet.
impact statement response
- A "foodshed" is the area from which a population center derives its food supply. A "foodprint" is the area needed to feed one average person. By using geographic and optimization models, we have mapped the potential local foodsheds for all population centers in New York State and determined the foodprint for balanced diets that range in meat and fat content. Existing data on soils, land cover, and population served as input for the models, and this allowed us to estimate the theoretical minimum distances within which population centers could be supplied a balanced diet. The average distance for all of upstate New York was about 30 miles. Depending on the diet, from about 0.5 acres (vegetarian) to about 1.9 acres (very high meat) were needed to feed one person. The most people were fed with a low meat diet (about 0.6 acres/person) because more land was available for agriculture with sustainable management when some of it could be used for pasture for animals. When New York City was added to the model, a local food supply could not meet the needs of that population for food. Further study with multiple states is being initiated to study how most efficiently to meet the food needs of very large population centers.
impact statement summary
- We are using a set of models to study the size of the "foodprint" needed to feed an average person in New York with a balanced diet from local land and crop resources with sustainable management practices. Based on population distribution data, we then estimate the "foodshed" needed to feed a whole population center. Results indicate that the optimum foodprint for our state is about 0.6 acre/person and it is based on a diet with some meat. This balanced diet includes about 2 oz of meat and eggs /day. That is about one third of present average consumption of meat and eggs, but it is significantly more than the no-meat diet many have suggested as being the most efficient in feeding people. Most upstate cities can be fed locally with the bulk of their food coming within about a 30-mile radius. However, large population centers like New York City cannot be fed with a local food system. The scale of the study is being enlarged to better understand how large cities can be fed while minimizing the distance that food must be transported.
- Bills, Nelson Lawrence Researcher
- Cornell Applied Economics and Management; New York State Partner (Cornell Applied Economics and Management)
- Cornell Nutritional Sciences; New York State Partner (Cornell Nutritional Sciences)
- Geography and Geosciences; Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland Partner (Geography and Geosciences)
- Lembo, Jr., Art Researcher
- Peters, Christian Researcher
- Wilkins, Jennifer Lynn Researcher
- Applied Research
- Fick, Gary Warren Cornell Faculty Member