How Urbanites Eat

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No, no, you haven't reach Hungry Memphis by mistake.

I've been sitting on this video about food and cities for a few days, but it's well worth passing along.

In this TEDtalk, architect Carolyn Steel discusses how cities feed their residents: how urbanism grew up alongside agriculture, how ancient Rome effectively waged war against Carthage and Egypt to get its hands on their grain reserves — "one long drawn-out militarized shopping spree" — and how cities were physically shaped by food production and transportation.

For the video, click here. It's a tad long, but raises some interesting questions, especially about sustainability and food production.

Once rail lines were installed, however, cities were "emancipated" from food production — they could grow any size in any place. But that doesn't mean the link between urbanism and agriculture has been severed.

"We're actually as dependent on the natural world as our ancient ancestors were," Steel says.

Some things have changed, though. More people are eating more meat, more people are living in cities, and more people are eating a Western diet.

"Even thought this food we're producing comes at great cost, we don't actually value it. Half the food produced in the U.S.A. is currently thrown away," Steel says.

The other difference: "We used to cook, now we just add water. ... We don't smell food to see if it's okay to eat. We read the label on the back of a packet," says Steel.

(Hat tip to PD! Thanks!)

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