Dan Allen
Dan Allen

Can Urban Agriculture Feed Los Angeles?

With Two Infographics!

The LA Food Policy Task Force recently released a 108-page report titled “The Good Food for All Agenda: Creating a New Regional Food System for Los Angeles.”

The report praises urban agriculture with the caveat that “supporting urban agriculture should only be viewed as a supplement, not a replacement strategy, for solving food insecurity and improving food access.” While there is some truth to that statement, similar claims are often used to flippantly dismiss the potential positive impact of urban agriculture (as Jesse learned last year at a University of Pennsylvania roundtable).

There probably isn’t a simple yes/no answer to the question “can urban agriculture feed Los Angeles” but the following graphic shows that it would take less than 9% of the city to grow all the fruits and vegetables we need (click here for a larger image).

Further, there is a functioning model for such a system of urban agriculture: Havana; a city with almost identical population density to that of Los Angeles (click here for a larger image).

Finally, data from the Los Angeles County Farm Bureau suggests that as recently as 1950, LA County dedicated 97,000 acres to fruit and vegetable production. That total is well more than the 69,000 acres that we estimate would be necessary for the county to be self-sufficient (at least in terms of produce).

While a lot has changed since 1950 and LA is a much different city than Havana, I think this data confirms what a visual survey of the city would also suggest: the potential for urban agriculture in LA is great and largely untapped.