Follow Me Foodie: The downside to farming downtown (The cons of urban agriculture)

Follow Me Foodie ponders the implications of urban agriculture.

Mijune Pak — Westender
April 9, 2014 02:10 PM

Duck! I am literally ducking from the non-organic food scraps that might get thrown at me by the people about to read this week’s column. (Since they’re non-organic scraps, it wouldn’t be a waste, right?)

Wow. Are we really opening up a can of worms in an “urban farming” issue? Figuratively, yes.

I’d better start by saying I am not against urban agriculture but I do like to play devil’s advocate, think critically, and encourage discussion. There’s no discussion when we all agree. Agree?

There are many reasons why urban farming is great: it educates people about food, it brings the community together, it’s healthful, economical, environmentally friendly, and a good use of ‘unwanted’ space. But is it really? Read the full story.

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  • Ricky L says:

    i think growing your own food is not a bad idea but statistically it is impossible to grow all your own food or else you’d be living like the cavemen with not enough food to eat. millions of people have been lifted out of poverty due to scientific advances in food production and efficiency, many of whom would surely have died from hunger without these advances. whatever it is, we have to make sure it is healthy and not full of hormones/steroids/chemicals that lead to cancer/death/heart disease/ etc

  • Yves Farges says:

    The main value of urban gardens, growing food of various kinds is that it brings urban dwellers closer to the nature that cities have pushed away dramatically. The amount of food is going to be small, granted. The main benefit is the appreciation and spiritual satisfaction a person will get from seeing a tomato plant (for example) grow, ripening slowly, and eventually completing the cycle on a plate giving us energy after the satisfaction of producing.

    I nurtures in people an appreciation for agriculture, the patience when things grow, and creates standards; personal standards for taste.

    Farmers Markets become much more interesting because you are also involved, albeit in a small way.

    It is true that pollution in urban environments is higher but the counter-argument is that every garden on a roof and on a deck is a step in the right direction for an urban environment. Food Safety can be checked as well.

    Then there is the use of land argument. It is completely clear that in an urban environment, the best “value” is to build. I use quotation marks for the word “value” because in the last sentence it means “monetary value”. There are other “values” thankfully, and city halls across the world recognize this, zoning green spaces, stopping excessive tree cutting, encouraging gardens, encouraging green roofs, and zoning to allow the creation of Farmers Markets.

    Urban gardens are a physical manifestation of the general desire of people to address “values” beyond lucre from property values.

    A better Devil’s Advocate position is precisely standing against the “Real Estate first, gardens & people second” crowd an insist that urban gardens are important enough to aggressively campaign for.

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