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Including Healthy Food Infrastructure in the EIS/EA Process
Environmental Impact Assessment GEOG 5960 Alexandra Parvaz April 27, 2010 GEOG 5963 University of Utah
22). second only to tobacco use (Wang.This paper seeks to explore and analyze a recommendation made on behalf of the President of the Manhattan Borough that local governments.S. Nearly one third of all US children and adolescents are considered overweight.S. city planners and policy makers should consider more proactive measures towards ensuring community health and well-being through the lens of the city planning. the United States has followed a sobering trajectory towards an unhealthy diet crisis. 4th paragraph) . obesity has become the second leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States. one can see that the incidence of obesity has dramatically increased in some states that have rapidly escalated from an initial 10% incidence to a startling near 25-30% prevalence in only 18 years (“Overweight and Obesity”). Obesity Ranking”). Out of all 50 states. The map below provides a shocking illustration of the expanse of the disease. having more than doubled since the 1970s by enhancing morbidity and mortality in the U. we can better understand local environmental factors and apply measures to manage and take a preventative medicine approach. As shown below in the graph composed by the Centers of Disease Control. Mississippi has emerged by far as the most obese state in the country (“Mississippi tops U. Prevalence of Obesity and the influence of the Retail Food Environment Over the past two decades. Stringer. By carefully examining how our cities are designed and how the built environment or proposed development projects can exacerbate problems such as obesity/diabetes epidemics. zoning and the development permit process (1. .
highly processed sugary foods. and ranked the seventh leading cause of death in the U. 1990.Obesity Trends* Among U. As one analyzes these disconcerting health profiles. arthritis and hypertension. Excessive consumption of unhealthy.S. Rates of disease prevalence have been highest among people of color and low-income status. race and the incidence of the disease.S in 2006 (“Diabetes Statistics”. with 51% higher prevalence than Caucasians. a chronic version of the disease which for many people who suffer from it. Source: CDC Behavioral Risk Surveillance System No Data ≥30% <10% 10%–14% 15%–19% 20%–24% 25%–29% Another alarming health trends is the increasing rates of diabetes. Nearly 23 million Americans. 1999. inactivity and excess weight gain all enhance one’s risk for developing the diseases as well as several other severe illnesses like coronary heart. develop the disease due to lifestyle habits an. in particular type 2 diabetes. cancer. African Americans were more likely to develop obesity than any other race. 2008 1990 1999 2008 Figure 1. Segal paragaph 3). Adults BRFSS. Some of the contributing factors that have led to these . 7% of the entire population suffers from the illness. one detects health disparities among income. Between 2006-2008.
a 5 mile radius. the value increases to 1 mile and if rural. In an effort to examine the association between the location of food retail stores. between the years of 1985 and 2000. according to the US Department of Agriculture. Still. but minimal physical exercise which fosters more sedentary behavior (Wung. 24. In one instance. also known as “Food Environments” and the risks for obesity and diabetes. hence creating a preference for the unhealthy. the number of these facilities is counted relative to a 0. and thus higher vegetable intake (Wang 24). fats. an indicator which compares the number of fast food restaurants in addition to unhealthy convenient stores to the number of more fresher food purveyors from either a grocery store. other potentially more causal factors to the epidemic include the sheer abundance and close proximity of fast food restaurants versus healthier food options from grocery stores with respect to an individuals’ homes. supermarket or farmers market. Cultural factors also contributes to the trends. To achieve a description number for a particular community. .trends include cost of food items to the point where fresh produce is more expensive than the less nutritious. “Designed for Disease”). referring to what has been called an “obesogenic” lifestyle in America given cultural and media pressure especially among youth to increase their consumption and portion sizes of high energy. the cost of fruits and vegetables jumped to over 120 percent. contributing to the higher instance of obesity and diabetes rates (Wung 24.5 mile radius of a person’s home in the urban environment. while soft drinks. researchers have increasing found about the strong association between proximity to healthy food stores in fostering more healthy diets. Studies have shown disparities in the availability of fruit and vegetable purveyors especially among minority and low income populations. If measured in a small community. sugars and sweets only increased by less than 50 percent. Davidow paragraph 20). highly processed food. sugary foods. revealing 50 to 70% fewer chain supermarkets compared with White and non-Hispanic neighborhoods. researchers with the California Center for Public Health Advocacy have created an intriguing ration called the Retail Food Environment Index. In contrast.
this study has well demonstrated a strong association between the proximity of food purveyors and the options that are readily available in the community and the prevalence of dietary illnesses (6). more aggressive measures must seriously be implemented in strengthening health advocacy efforts by improving the food environments which would more directly and easily create the conditions for the public to . revealing that low income communities. An RFEI below 3 is considered the low end of fast food to grocery ration.5. and demonstrated a correlation.I.F.s were less than 3 (5) .E. for a Californian is 4. Studies have also found had also been conducted showing the relationship between income and the RFEI and health outcome.The equation is detailed below: R.F. who are defined as having an income below 200% of the federal poverty level. these studies carry great import in arguing that a good strategy for tackling and addressing the obesity/diabetes epidemic is to embark in improving the retail food environment and thus the shape of one’s community and urban design/planning.F.E. showing a clear association (3.E. Hence.I. are 20% higher compared to those in higher income areas. Studies have shown that higher RFEI are correlated with higher prevalence of obesity and diabetes. more than 4 times as many fast food joints for every grocery store or produce vendor near a person’s residence. In addition to educational programs and reaching out to people to change their eating habits. 4).I. In essence.E. = # Fast-Food Restaurants + # Convenience Stores #Grocery Stores + # Produce Vendors A value of 2 would indicate that the number of fast food joints is twice as many likely to be found nearby compared to grocery stores (Designed Disease . while 5 and above is considered very high.Is of 5 or more relative to those whose R.2). The local R.F. To come full circle. therefore suggesting a fairly strong resource situation that explains susceptibility to bad food choices. another study testing the relationship between prevalence of obesity and diabetes and adults with high local RFEIs who also live in low income communities. Obesity prevalence had been found to be 17% higher for lower incomes communities with R.
Strategies Improving the Retail Food Environment Some of the suggested ways to improve the retail food environment include engaging policy makers and city planners who need to recognize how the shape of our cities and hence the prevalence of crucial building structures such as healthy foods stores strongly impacts our communities food choices. In this way it is necessary that environmental and policy interventions be implemented by increasing the availability of grocery stores and produce vendors in the following ways: 1) Enhance access to healthy foods by providing incentives and new policies to be made for stimulating the establishment of more local fruit and vegetable markets particularly in communities in need.make healthier food selections (8. the city has employed an similar tool to the REIF called the FoodStat to help policy makers to assess the severity of their local food crises. Establish more farmers markets 2) Change zoning rules to dis-incentivize the fast food chains in favor of businesses that make a deliberate attempt at improving community health (7). Stringer. released a proposal for the city to tackle its own alarming dietary healthy crises by taking proactive measures in looking at the built environment’s influence on food choices. Under the promotion of the progressive President of the Manhattan Burough Scot Stringer. The FoodStat= # of Bodegas + # Fast food restaurants # of Supermarkets + Produce vendors . the so called “food deserts”. 2). The Manhattan Burough local government in New York City has taken these studies very seriously and beginning in 2009.
In this light. Stringer has now called forth for the establishment of more proactive city planning measures to be implemented to ensure local food systems are protected from any zoning or development projects that could put them at risk. Additionally. Having comparative data across neighborhoods will help overall raise more awareness of the defining local food landscape and help unify efforts through policy to improve the diets of city residents (Stringer 5). The Implications for City Planners. governmental agencies. before approving a development project in a particular neighborhood. “the worse the mix of retail food options in a community” (Stringer 4). 5). and augmenting the E. he has suggested that a category called the “Healthy Food Infrastructure” be incorporated into the City’s . Among the key benefits Scott Stringer points out of using these food climate indicators is that they help “institutionalize consideration of the neighborhood food landscape in policies and programs developed by the City to improve public health and the urban environment” (Stringer 5).I.Exactly like the REIF. then are the implications for developers and city planners? Understanding that a healthy food infrastructure is crucial to ensure the health and quality of life of fellow residents. a key question to consider now is what. Planning for Healthy Neighborhoods: Include Food Infrastructure in the City’s Environmental Review. the higher the FoodStat. FoodStat encourages the expansion of healthy food options in neighborhoods where such options are in shortest supply and thus holds higher standards the services and infrastructure located in any given community to promote healthy food systems. low income communities. “should be well informed about the impacts of any development proposal on the local food system” (Stringer.S. Stringer via his 2009 proposal entitled. by quantifying a well-known problem. has announced the need to ensure that decision-makers like the City Planning Commission. In an effort to leverage the city’s commitment to enhance food security and access to healthy produce to particularly at risk. With these recommendations in place.
healthy produce and where appropriate.Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) (“Proposal to Include Healthy Food Infrastructure in Environmental Impact Review”). this couls be int eh form of displacement of food retailers or for that matter the entities responsible for provisioning the retailers with food. a local food system could be even its own section alone. provide “the technical and legal basis for questioning food infrastructure during the review of new development proprosals (2). and thus as Stringer says. the same consideration should be given to local food resources which should be considered as an impact category. Socio-economic or public Health Sections. prior to the developer and associated agency in studying impacts is the first prepare either an Environmental Assessment Statement. . Before a permit can be granted to a proposed project in a neighborhood. Inherent in this proposal is an understanding of the inextricable linkages between the shape of any given neighborhood and the public health. The CEQR is a process which measures the negatives impact that proposed developments would have on the surrounding neighborhood’s resources such as water and air quality and which requires mitigation measures to be addressed. However under his recommendation. identify methods to either mitigate or minimize these effects. urban agricultural project. either as a subsection to the Community Facilities. When considering where a category regarding Local Food System impacts in the EIS. as detailed below (2): • Direct effects refer to those impacts which would directly harm existing food resources essential for healthy communities. However. Some of the impacts that agencies should consider would relate to direct and indirect effects. to an Environmental Impact Statement if the proposed development has a direct significant impact on healthy food infrastructure. As part of this assessment. the traditional EIS structure already holds offers several good categories to host it under. such as a community garden. here must an assessment of whether this project will affect the communities capacity to access fresh.
it is essential to assess whether the local food supply can even accommodate the food pressures. to resident ratio is well below the average. On average.25 miles of the site would create enormous strains. Upon identifying the type of locale to work with next steps would need to consider factors such as the number.• Indirect effects relate mores o to local demand on the supply of food. If a porejct proposes that he population increase which results in more resource consumers.000 residents. A key goal in trying to enhance local fresh food systems is the enhance this ratio to 30. if a neighborhood’s sq footage to resident ratio is less than the average. type and location of the food retail stores in vicinity of the area. urban agricultural sites and .ft/10. hence an EIS required. The CEQR mandates that the agency first consider thresholds to determine whether an EA or EIS is warranted.000 people.000 residents.000 sq ft of supermarket space is afforded per 10. agencies should identify to the following categories (3): 1) Healthy Food Deficient Neighborhoods-areas also known as “food deserts” where the market sq.25 mile of the site would result in significant impact and thus warrant an EIS. Those projects that would be located within food insecure neighborhoods would demand stricter scrutiny compared to that of a more wealthy. as well as looking into the degree of farmers markets. 15. agencies are requested to consider the total square footage of supermarket space to total population. ft. 3) Healthy Food Sufficient Neighborhoods: Hence.000 sq. ample food community. 2) Healthy Food Undersupplied Neighborhoods-lack adequate healthy food infrastructure since their citywide average of supermarkets to residents is below the ideal of 30.000 sq ft/10. In addition to using the REIF indicator to determine the type of community one would be working with and thus get an idea of the type of analysis to do. A population increase of at least 5% would within 0. In this light. Any population increase of at least 1% within 0.
. (Berman paragraph 30. or reserving retail space for food providers that would be able to connect with recipients of food stamps. Through the creation of green jobs for Detroit citizens to grow food year round. Although Hantz has already bought the land and immediately seeks to hire locally full time positions for planning the area. beautiful environment that will enhance the City. and zoning rules to create a lower tax rate for agriculture. critical questions to assess are the following: 1) Will this project cause direct or indirect barriers to social interaction? 2) Impede access to neighborhoods and services? 3) Will it invoke any Loss of services? If sever impact is detected. increase the tax base. attract tourism. Hantz has invested over $30 million to transform an urban blighted abandoned area in the heart of the city into a thriving for-profit 50 acre urban agricultural farm. a region crippled by the economic downtown and suffering from soaring unemployment rates and social despair. create jobs and greatly improve the quality of life in Detroit” (Hantz Farms. he also seeks to receive a free tax –delinquent land. Once again. grow fresh. Whitford paragraph 32).other sources of fresh food availability (3-4). then mitigation measures must be addressed such as the creation of a new healthy food supplier in the region. Among the main goals of this project is to rejuvenate the decaying Detroit into a biologically productive area where community members can work the land. change the zoning adjustment from residential or commercial property to agriculture. Case Example: In the city of Detroit. turning the lot into the largest urban farm in the world. local produdc.org). enhancing the fresh food supply by implementing more farmers markets. he envisions this project enhancing the access to fresh. a former stockbroker John Hantz has sought to help his community. healthy produce all the while stimulating the local economy and providing jobs that offer a livable and meaningful wage to the farmers. and all the while “create a viable.
Conclusion Overall. . With increasing research demonstrating the impacts of retail food environments on people’s food choices. the incorporation of a Healthy Food Infrastructure in the City Environmental Review and for that matter an Environmental Impact Statement would offer a series of cascading benefits in the form of creating amore holistic and comprehensive assessment of a project’s impacts on issues which deserve attention. Since it directly relates to urban local food systems. we have come to recognize the need for better designing our cities to make fresh produce more readily accessible to communities in need. multi-functional.This case lends itself very well as a good example of a project that may need to compose an Environmental Assessment in order to get a permit from the City of Detroit to begin breaking ground. By taking more proactive measures in the way that a City grants permits for development projects. his agency partners would assess impacts as related to the Healthy Food Infrastructure resource category. communities can more easily achieve the goal of more sustainable. elegant cities that take an integrated approach to addressing critical social issues.
detnews. Scott M. Laura. “Mississippi tops U. 2010. retrieved April 23. Scott.collectiveroots. The South is the ‘Biggest Belt’”. Laura. Julie.html. obesity rankings” CNNHealth. hungry” Seattle Post Intelligencer.gov/obesity/data/trends. Designed for Disease: The Link Between Local Food Environments and Obesity and Diabetes. 2010. M. June 2009 . 2010 Davidow. “America’s Obesity Epidemic Getting Worse.com/2009/HEALTH/07/01/obesity. California Center for Public Health Advocacy. 2006 Stringer.References: Berman. http://mbpo. Manhattan Borough President Proposal. retrieved April 20. and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. The Detroit News: http://www.diabetes.rankings/index.html.com/article/20090723/OPINION03/907230340/1008/JohnHantz-envisions-vacant-Detroit-land-as-a-working-farm#ixzz0mP3I2nFj. New Report Finds Adult Obesity Rates Up in 31 States. 2010 “Proposal to Include Healthy Food Infrastructure in Environmental Impact Review. http://www. August 29. http://www.org/diabetesbasics/diabetes-statistics/. Policy Link. Trust for America’s Health.org/node/761.com. retrieved April 26. Segal.S.cnn. “The Obesity Crisis: A healthy diet often beyond the means of poor. retrieved April 20. 2010 “Overweight and Obesity: Trends by State 1985-2008”.org/blog_details. http://www. retrieved April 23. May 2009 Stringer. President of the Borough of Manhattan Proposal. California's Food Landscape Encourages Obesity: New Research Tools Monitors Retail Food Environment.asp? id=178&page=1. John Hantz envisions vacant Detroit land as a working farm. 2004 Diabetes Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.cdc. April 2008. American Diabetes Assocation.” The Manhattan Minute: Blogging about the Borough. retrieved April 20. FoodStat: Measuring the Retail Food Environment in NYC Neighborhoods. Planning for Healthy Neighborhoods: Include Food Infrastructure in the City’s Environmental Review. http://www. 2010.
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