Local and Regional Food Systems Collection

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A wide variety of students, faculty, and staff at Cornell have or are pursuing research, learning or outreach related activities relevant to local and regional food systems. That includes exploring questions around nutrition, economics, community development, sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, and food security. Interest in this area comes from a number of different departments, including Applied Economics and Management, Biological and Environmental Engineering, City and Regional Planning, Crop and Soil Sciences, Developmental Sociology, Horticulture, Human Ecology, Natural Resources, and Nutrition, as well as Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Many of the materials produced by individuals and projects related to food systems are either unpublished or scattered across the web in forms such as white papers, journal articles, conference proceedings, extension publications and fact sheets. The focus of these writings may relate directly to local food systems, or to the history, conditions and larger forces affecting them (e.g. globalization, industrialization, and commodification of food). This collection provides a convenient means of finding materials related to this topic in other collections across the eCommons repository.

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This collection is maintained by Albert R. Mann Library at Cornell University. As part of the Land Grant University at Cornell, we are committed to supporting its mission of providing education, outreach and applied research for the benefit of New York's citizens, communities and landscapes.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 541
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    Quantity and species of fish consumed shape breast milk fatty acid concentrations
    Fiorella, K.J.; Milner, E.M.; Hickey, M.D.; Salmen, C.S.; Omollo, D.O.; Bukusi, E.; Fernald, L.C.H. (Cambridge Unversity Press, 2017-11-27)
    Objective: Long-chain PUFA (LCPUFA) found in breast milk are derived from dietary sources and critical for optimal infant development. We examined associations between fish consumption and concentrations of LCPUFA and essential n-3 and n-6 fatty acids in breast milk among mothers living around Lake Victoria. Design: We used cross-sectional analyses of associations between recent fish consumption and breast-milk fatty acid concentrations. Setting: The study was conducted around Lake Victoria on Mfangano Island, Kenya, where multiple fish species are key dietary components and also are widely exported. Subjects: Breast-feeding mothers (n 60) provided breast-milk samples, anthropometric measurements and questionnaire responses. Results: In the previous 3 d, 97 % of women consumed a mean of 178 (sd 111) g fish (~2 servings/3 d). Mean breast-milk concentrations included DHA (0·75 % of total fatty acids), EPA (0·16 %), _-linolenic acid (ALA; 0·54 %), arachidonic acid (AA; 0·44 %) and linoleic acid (LA; 12·7 %). Breast-milk DHA concentrations exceeded the global average of 0·32 % in fifty-nine of sixty samples. We found native cichlids (Cichlidae) and dagaa (Rastrineobola argentea) contributed high levels of DHA, EPA and AA to local diets. We also found evidence for associations between fish species consumed and breast-milk LCPUFA concentrations when controlling for intake of other fish species, maternal body mass, maternal age, child age and exclusive breast-feeding. Conclusions: The fatty acid composition of breast milk was influenced by the fish species consumed. Ensuring access to diverse fish and particularly inexpensive, locally available species, may be important for diet quality as well as infant growth and development.
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    Human Health Alters the Sustainability of Fishing Practices in East Africa
    Fiorella, K.J.; Milner, E.M.; Salmen, C.S.; Hickey, M.D.; Omollo, D.O.; Mattah, B.; Adhiambo, A.; Bukusi, E.B.; Fernald, L.C.H.; Brashares, J.S. (National Academy of Sciences, 2017-04-18)
    Understanding feedbacks between human and environmental health is critical for the millions who cope with recurrent illness and rely directly on natural resources for sustenance. Although studies have examined how environmental degradation exacerbates infectious disease, the effects of human health on our use of the environment remains unexplored. Human illness is often tacitly assumed to reduce human impacts on the environment. By this logic, ill people reduce the time and effort that they put into extractive livelihoods and, thereby, their impact on natural resources. We followed 303 households living on Lake Victoria, Kenya over four time points to examine how illness influenced fishing. Using fixed effect conditional logit models to control for individual-level and time-invariant factors, we analyzed the effect of illness on fishing effort and methods. Illness among individuals who listed fishing as their primary occupation affected their participation in fishing. However, among active fishers, we found limited evidence that illness reduced fishing effort. Instead, ill fishers shifted their fishing methods. When ill, fishers were more likely to use methods that were illegal, destructive, and concentrated in inshore areas but required less travel and energy. Ill fishers were also less likely to fish using legal methods that are physically demanding, require travel to deep waters, and are considered more sustainable. By altering the physical capacity and outlook of fishers, human illness shifted their effort, their engagement with natural resources, and the sustainability of their actions. These findings show a previously unexplored pathway through which poor human health may negatively impact the environment.
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    From Sea to Plate: The Role of Fish in a Sustainable Diet
    Seto, K.; Fiorella, K.J. (Frontier Media, 2017-03-16)
    In the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the USDA Advisory Committee recommended for the first time the inclusion of sustainability considerations (DGA Committee, 2015). Since the U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide standards for nutrition and targets for federal and state food programs, explicitly incorporating sustainability would advance considerably discussions of food system sustainability (Merrigan et al., 2015). However, despite broad public support, sustainability 80 concerns were ultimately jettisoned from the 2015–2020 Guidelines (Secretary Vilsack and Burwell, 2015; US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture, 2015; Wood-Wright, 2016). Though much of the concern around incorporating sustainability has focused on animal agriculture, the sectors most heavily impacted by sustainability policies are arguably fisheries and aquaculture. Fish have been promoted as a sustainability strategy, providing nutritious alternatives to resource intensive livestock and poultry, and a concern, given the decline of many global fish stocks (Worm et al., 2006; Health Council of the Netherlands, 2011; FAO, 2014). Yet, we regularly overlook the origins and implications of this decline due to fragmented notions of our food resources. Resources that originate in our oceans, rivers, and lakes are almost entirely omitted in our conceptions of a sustainable food system. To understand the trade-offs from food production and consumption to sustainability, we must extend our understanding of food resources to conceive of fishery, agricultural, and livestock systems as integrally linked. Our failure to do so thus far has led to a disjointed understanding of our food system, contributed to inequalities in food access, and exacerbated overexploitation and environmental degradation. We argue here that fishery resources are of particular concern for sustainability yet often omitted in conceptions of our food system, and that such disjointed notions of food resources limit our ability to foster sustainable diets (Farmery et al., 2017).
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    Characteristics of Pica Behaviors Among Women in Western Kenya
    Chung, E.O.; Omollo, D.O.; Mattah, B.; Hickey, M.D.; Salmen, C.R.; Milner, E.M.; Brashares, J.S.; Young, S.L.; Fernald, L.C.H.; Fiorella, K.J. (BMC, 2019-07-14)
    Background: Pica, the craving and purposeful consumption of nonfoods, is poorly understood. We described the prevalence of pica among women on Mfangano Island, Kenya, and examined sociodemographic and health correlates. Methods: Our cross-sectional study included 299 pregnant or postpartum women in 2012. We used a 24-h recall to assess pica, defined as consumption of earth (geophagy), charcoal/ash, or raw starches (amylophagy) and built multivariable logistic regression models to examine sociodemographic and health correlates of pica. Results: Eighty-one women (27.1%) engaged in pica in the previous 24 h, with 59.3% reporting amylophagy and 56.8% reporting geophagy, charcoal, and/or ash consumption. The most common substances consumed were raw cassava (n = 30, 36.6%), odowa, a chalky, soft rock-like earth (n = 21, 25.6%), and soil (n = 17, 20.7%). Geophagy, charcoal, and/or ash consumption was negatively associated with breastfeeding (OR = 0.38, 95% CI: 0.18–0.81), and amylophagy was associated with pregnancy (OR = 4.31, 95% CI: 1.24–14.96). Pica was more common within one of six study regions (OR = 3.64, 95% CI: 1.39–9.51). We found no evidence of an association between food insecurity and pica. Conclusion: Pica was a common behavior among women, and the prevalence underscores the need to uncover its dietary, environmental, and cultural etiologies.
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    Measuring stocks of community wealth & their association with food systems efforts in rural & urban places.
    Schmit, T.M.; Jablonski, B.B.R.; Bonanno, A.; Johnson, T.G. (Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, 2020-06)
    Healthy, sustainable communities depend on cumulative investments in a broad range of capital assets, yet little research sets forth comprehensive measures of their stocks or the relationships of capital assets to community outcomes or policy efficacy. We develop a comprehensive set of indicators associated with stocks of community-based wealth at the county level. Including such indicators when evaluating community outcomes addresses a missing-variables problem of prior efforts and allows one to control for and quantify the importance of community capital assets in concert with traditional modeling efforts. To illustrate their use, we evaluate the association between the percentage of farms selling through direct local food markets and community capital stocks for both metro and nonmetro counties. In so doing, we demonstrate clear differences across metro and nonmetro classifications and the need for public and/or private planning efforts to consider preexisting levels of community capitals in appropriately framing food system interventions, policies, and strategies for development.
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    Assessing the Economic Impacts of Food Hubs on Regional Economies: A Framework that Includes Opportunity Costs
    Jablonski, B.B.R.; Schmit, T.M.; Kay, D. (Cambridge University Press, 2016-04)
    The number of food hubs—businesses that aggregate and distribute local food—in the United States is growing, fueled in part by increasing public support. However, there have been few data-driven assessments of the economic impacts of these ventures. Using an input-output-based methodology and a unique data set from a successful food hub, we measure net and gross impacts of a policy supporting their development. We estimate a gross output multiplier of 1.75 and an employment multiplier of 2.14. Using customer surveys, we estimate that every $1 increase in final demand for food hub products generates a $0.11 reduction in purchases in other sectors.
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    Looking for Locapours: Using Zagat Survey Data to Examine Restaurant Demand for Local Wine
    Perla, J.M.; Rickard, B.J.; Schmit, T.M. (Cambridge University Press, 2014-04)
    There is increasing interest in local foods among consumers in the United States and a rise in offerings of local products in restaurants. We use Zagat survey data and restaurant-specific menu information to estimate factors that influence the availability of New York State (NYS) wine in 1,401 NYS restaurants. We focus on wine because its production region is clearly labeled on menus and there is a burgeoning industry in NYS. Our econometric results indicate that decor ratings, cuisine styles, certain wine list characteristics, and distance to wine regions have statistically significant impacts on the likelihood of NYS restaurants serving local wine.
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    Assessing the costs and returns of on-farm food safety improvements: A survey of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training participants
    Schmit, T.M.; Wall, G.L.; Newbold, E.J.; Bihn, E.A. (PLOS, 2020-07-02)
    Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training programs were developed to provide guidance to fruit and vegetable growers on how to reduce food safety risks on the farm. These pro-grams have been enhanced over the years due, in part, to increasing buyer and regulatory requirements. However, the costs of implementing additional food safety practices has been identified as a primary barrier to long-term farm financial feasibility, particularly for smaller scale producers. A survey of past participants in New York State revealed that increasing food safety improvements facilitated by GAPs have not significantly impacted the size of farm operations or the types of crops grown. In terms of farm size, we show that both the financial costs and financial benefits of food safety improvements increase with farm size, but at decreasing rates. In so doing, relatively higher market sales gains per acre by smaller farms from additional food safety investments offset the relatively higher costs to them of their implementation. We also demonstrate that benefits of food safety improvements were significantly higher for farms that had third-party food safety audits and for those that market primarily through wholesale channels. The results should prove welcome by educators as they encourage participation by all scales of producers in GAPs trainings and for growers in understanding that food safety investments can support both reduced microbial risks and sales growth.
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    Assessing Barriers to Expansion of Farm-to-Chef Sales: A Case Study from Upstate New York
    Schmit, T.M.; Hadcock, S.E. (Canadian Center of Science and Education, 2012-02)
    Columbia County Bounty is a local organization made up of farmer and culinary business members, with a mission that includes promoting connections between local agricultural producers and culinary businesses. A case study was conducted to address questions raised by CCB related to expanding farm-to-chef marketing in their area. Common barriers for restaurants included larger time commitments, inconvenience, and consistency in product volumes and quality; however, satisfaction with local wholesale distributors may create new opportunities for farmers to work collaboratively with them in including more local products in their distribution. A closer inspection of channel performance by farms in the study will drive changes in future channel strategies and utilization of farm-to-chef marketing, as farms are already benefiting from strong direct marketing channels and restaurants procuring local products from these channels.