In the push to overcome shrinking investment in social services, energise towns and cities and develop more self-funded local activities, there's real value in encouraging innovation around food - and beyond the 'barnyard realism' of urban agriculture or farmers' markets.
As an article in environmental blog Grist recently said, smart cities are (un)paving the way for urban farmers and for sure, it's great to promote and exploit the value of using redundant land to 'grow your own' - and something that we've done a lot, for example in an urban farming initiative that was featured recently in a report on design, sustainability and innovation by a U.K. Government department and exhibited in Toronto, moving to New York soon.
Innovative food retail and production is vital to the creative economy of cities, the sustainability of their resource management and the freedom of choice offered by places that real estate developers and local government create for residents and visitors alike.
Here's three things that I've spotted recently.
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, a vehicle for exotic toppings like wasabi-pea powder, olice oil and cardomon, according to an article in New York magazine, one of *twenty-five* food trucks featured that are the next step up the evolutionary ladder from the traditional sidewalk food cart.
The Smile Restaurant and General Store, New York whose clientele are described in a review in New York magazine as an abundance of vaguely hippieish people milling about in lumberjack shirts, hand-stitched moccasins, skinny jeans, lush whiskers, and tattoos. ! :)
And Ontario-based dairy and cheese producer Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co whose founder Petra Cooper was the subject of a recent profile in Fortune magazine that majored on her change of career from president of a unit of publisher McGraw Hill Ryerson Canada, after learning that an island on Lake Ontario had 19 wineries but no artisanal diaries.
Now I am no foodie AT ALL and as fast as you can say "KFC bucket", I'll race for a non-artisan plate of this:
But these food micro-enterprises are vital to high-quality infrastructure at a community scale and underscore innovative food retail and production as generators of employment.
They express freedom of choice, provided you have the money, and allied to the collective action or 'new urban commons' of many food growing schemes form part of the 'creative food economy' and public infrastructure that makes for a healthy city.