The Food Lab’s Principal Investigator, Samina Raja, will be giving a lecture at Cornell University’s Architecture, Art, and Planning School on Friday, September 25th. She will be speaking on new research on the role of local government in regulating and investing in the food system. Her lecture, Over Regulation and Under-investment: Local Government Planning Response to Problems in the Food System, is co-sponsored by the Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell Engaged Learning + Research, and the Robert Van Nest Lecture Fund. For more information, click here. An abstract of the work is below.
As calls to strengthen communities’ food systems continue to grow, local governments have begun to respond by deploying a host of planning and policy tools. Some are preparing comprehensive food systems plans; others are offering tax incentives to foster community food businesses. This is, some would argue, a heady time for food systems planning. Yet this turn warrants great caution and clarity about the purpose and means by which public policy is used to intervene in the food system. Overregulation and underinvestment — the current mode of local government intervention in the food system — is unlikely to address its problems. This presentation draws on a decade-long qualitative study of Buffalo, New York, and reviews trends nationally to illustrate the possibilities and pitfalls of using local government planning to strengthen food systems. It highlights the important, if challenging, role of community engagement in developing and implementing food policies and plans.