The level of concern in civilsociety about the global food system, industrial or mechanised agriculture andits role in global warming have been raised in the popular consciousness, inbooks (Eric Schlosser’s ‘Fast Food Nation’, Houghton Mifflin, 2002) anddocumentaries (Robert Kenner’s ‘Food Inc’, 2008) that stressed the highlypoliticized, complex and interconnected processes involved in the production,marketing and distribution of food and its commodity chain. These issues aredriving social movements with a ‘green agenda’ that seek solutions to minimisethe impact of western consumption as a driver of climate change and its impacton communities in developing countries where much of the raw materials forwestern production and consumption are sourced.
In some western communities,this socially-driven ‘green imperative’ has developed into national ‘GreenParty’ political groups. However, tension can emerge when social movements feelthat their defining issues have been co-opted, or appropriated, by politics(seeing a ‘political opportunity’) and compromises the spirit and expectationsof the collective will (Dryzek et al,2003). Applied research and institutionalinvolvement in urban agriculture issues are now discussed alongside globalconcerns over climate change, ‘peak oil’ and related potential of a collapse inthe global food system (Pretty, 2011; Rosin etal, 2011; Thornton, 2011). As a response to these challenges, urbanagriculture is advanced as a strategy for improving, firstly, natural ecosystem services, such as carbonsequestration, through maintaining healthy soils and forests and, secondly, in’human ecosystems’ through ‘urban greening’ for healthy cities in movingtowards closing the loop on high consumption of inputs (fossil fuels and food)and production of waste (Newman & Jennings, 2008; Lehmann, 2010).
Where economic outcomes appeal to bothlocal producers and council mandates for local economic development, creatinglocal food systems could help to break the impasse. Frameworks for local foodsystems, which both support local growers and marketing of produce, benefitlow-income communities and make economically viable use of council, state andpublic lands, could provide pathways to compromises that are socially,environmentally and economically equitable.