However, the urban poor are often of varied ancestry and carry with them the eating habits of their respective cultures, according to the researchers. These crops and the foods they consume can diversify the foods available to everyone in the region. Access to a diversity of culturally diverse foods can also increase nutritional security.
The final branch of the framework is urban infrastructure and food retailing, which show both the challenges and the opportunities of healthy and accessible food. Retail opportunities in an urban context include supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores or convenience stores, formal and informal urban outdoor markets and food delivery, street vendors, restaurants and other food outlets.
This variety of options provides fertile ground for studying how urban infrastructure and retail outlets provide access to urban residents. Some of these possibilities include using data collected from barcodes or restaurant websites to track food biodiversity in a city or urban area.
The researchers said they hope that using this framework and the interconnection of the urban peri-urban environment with agrobiodiversity will help debunk the myth that these two vital conditions are incompatible.
They noted that the act of urbanization may have an intervening period when agrobiodiversity is low, especially among the urban poor.
Reduced food biodiversity is marked by simplified diets that reflect low agrobiodiversity and the commoditization of cheap foods. Boosting food biodiversity among poor urban populations can improve the situation of food and nutrition insecure populations, the researchers say.
“We conclude that the urbanization-agrobiodiversity nexus is a crucial new axis of interdisciplinary research to strengthen sustainable development and food systems,” said the researchers.
Edward C. Jaenicke, professor of agricultural economics, Penn State, also worked on this project as co-authors; Chris S. Duvall, professor and president of geography and environmental studies, University of New Mexico; Leia M. Minaker, Assistant Professor, Department of Planning, University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada; Thomas Reardon, professor emeritus of agriculture, food and resources, Michigan State University; and Karen C. Seto, Frederick C. Hixon professor of geography and urban science, Yale University.
The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, funded by the National Science Foundation, supported this work.