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U-C study: Most areas could feed themselves with food from a 50-mile radius

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A University of California, Merced environmental engineering professor recently published a study that found that most of the country could grow enough food within 50 miles to feed nearly all of the local population.


UC Merced associate professor Elliott Campbell, who received his doctorate in environmental engineering and science from the University of Iowa, published“The Large Potential of Local Croplands to Meet Food Demand in the United States” in this month’s edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The University of Iowa’s Iowa Environmental Focus blog carried a story on the study, which used data from a farmland-mapping project funded by the National Science Foundation and information about land productivity from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to map out the ability of different communities to feed their populations with locally produced food.


The study covered data from 1850 to 2000 and included information from the University of California Global Food Initiative. The researchers examined data for the period between 1850 and 2000.


Campbell said his findings could have an effect on public policy.

“Going into this study, I expected some potential for local food systems and certainly some drawbacks. The overall result was very positive. It’s drawn a strong response from the public, the media and the academic community. And it definitely has the potential to shape public policy. It’s exciting,” he told the UC Food Observer.

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