Owen Beatty

Document Type



The purpose of this study is to analyze food insecurity in the United States and propose a potential solution by means of increased localized agriculture and urbanized initiatives as new paradigms of relief. The word paradigms in this thesis is used to describe the examples of innovative alternatives to contemporary systems. A wide variety of research was gathered that examines the current U.S. food system and government nutrition assistance programs. The United States Department of Agriculture measures poverty by assessing a family’s cash income with a comparison to their needs. One such need is the cost of food, in which the minimum expense for different size families is multiplied by three. This is because sustenance is considered one third of the average American’s expenditure budget. These calculations then set the poverty threshold that is used to determine the qualifications for various government nutrition assistance programs. This research shows that both poverty and food insecurity - the limited availability or uncertainty of safe and nutritious foods - are correlated. Those that are considered below the poverty threshold, labeled “food insecure,” are the sample population of this study. This report is limited to the United States, however, the number of undernourished worldwide is an important consideration in conducting further research. The results of this study found that through large scale production, specialization, and centralization of agriculture, “food deserts” have taken shape in the America landscape. These areas are considered isolated from large supermarkets with access to quality (safe and healthy) affordable foods. Urban agriculture which focuses on localizing production has shown to be a viable resource and a possible solution for those in food deserts and other individuals suffering from hunger. Food certainty is used in this thesis to describe the consistent access to a quality diet; whereas food uncertainty is defined as the anxieties that stem from the uncertainty of securing a diet that is safe, healthy, and affordable. Through government grants and a potential policy shift away from corn production and other commodity subsidies unused, urban land can be transformed into local food initiatives that contribute to municipal economies. Ultimately, the goal is to recognize the potential for urban agriculture to become a viable means to achieve greater food certainty in the United States.



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