What two 19th-century cities can teach us about community-based food systems


While compiling this week’s (long overdue) Digest, I came across the excellent infographic above in Yes! magazine’s April issue, which is all about growing a food revolution. It nicely collects all of the inputs — homegrown seed, clean energy, regional processing plants, grow-your-own programs — that combine to create a healthy community-based food system. It is also the perfect illustration of a thoughtful essay Tom Philpott wrote a few weeks ago for Grist. Tom drew from Jane Jacobs’ book “The Economy of Cities” for a discussion of “Efficient Manchester” and “Inefficient Birmingham,” and concluded that a local, sustainable food system would look a lot like the latter — and the picture above — “with a set of thriving, interlocking, highly creative crafts based around food. And we’d eat a lot better, too.”

All you educators out there — the Yes! illustration and Tom’s piece would make a great starting point for classroom discussion, I bet. You can order a poster or download a 11×17 PDF for free.

2 Responsesto “What two 19th-century cities can teach us about community-based food systems”

  1. topdog says:

    I think you mean “the former” not “the latter”

  2. Bonnie P. says:

    Nope — Birmingham is our model, not Manchester.