Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Food System?

A food system includes all processes and infrastructure in place to feed a population; from all the inputs that are necessary to grow food, to the management of wasted food at the tail end, and everything in between: production, manufacturing and processing, storage and distribution, consumption, and disposal of food and food-related products.

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  • What is a food desert? Are there food deserts in the San Diego region? 

    Food deserts are residential areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food. Living in a food desert has been linked to poor diet and greater risk of obesity, while people who live near grocery stores are more likely to consume fruits and vegetables and less likely to be obese. In 2010, approximately 23 percent (or over 700,000 people) of the San Diego regional population lived in a food desert.

    Learn more about food deserts in the State of the Food System Report for the San Diego Region, and see how BrightSide Produce and the  Live Well Community Market Program are addressing food deserts in the San Diego region.

  • What is food insecurity? 

    Food insecurity is a complex societal, community, and individual issue. International organizations define food insecurity as a situation that exists when people lack secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth, development, and an active and healthy life. Learn more with the United Nation’s Food & Agriculture Organization’s 2020 State of the Food Security and Nutrition in the World.  

    In 2017, an estimated 443,000 (1 in 7) people in the San Diego region experienced food insecurity. Learn more about food insecurity in the San Diego region with the Food Donation Action Plan for the San Diego Region and Section 6 of State of the Food System Report for the San Diego Region

  • What is urban agriculture?

    Urban agriculture is emerging in densely populated areas of the San Diego region to provide food access and promote community development. Urban agriculture includes the production, distribution, and marketing of food and other products within the cores of metropolitan areas and at their edges. 

    Examples of urban agriculture are community or school gardens, community supported agriculture based in urban areas, and the use of innovative food production methods such as hydroponics and aquaponics in urban settings. Although there are social, health, economic, and environmental community benefits associated with urban agriculture some challenges in the San Diego region are the high cost of real estate, high cost of water at residential rates, and the diversity of policies and regulations related to urban agriculture throughout San Diego region's 19 jurisdictions. Learn more about urban agriculture and the County’s recent adoption of the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZ) ordinance.  

    The San Diego Food System Alliance's resources on urban agriculture

    City of San Diego's page on Urban Farming

    UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Urban Agriculture

  • What is wasted food? 

    Wasted food or food loss is any food that is grown and produced for human consumption, but that is ultimately not eaten. It includes food scraps resulting from food preparation processes (e.g. potato peels) and food that we don’t eat from our plates. Food waste also includes surplus wholesome edible food, resulting from overproduction or purchase, which is inadvertently left to rot or expires and ends up in the landfills. 

    In the United States, 40% of food is wasted. According to CalRecyle, 6 million tons of food is thrown away each year at the State level, which makes 18% of all the material that goes to the landfills. In the San Diego region, over 500,000 tons of food is wasted each year, while 1 out of every 7 residents face food insecurity. Learn how to reduce wasted food at Food: Too Good to Waste and Save the Food, San Diego!

    Learn more about global food waste with the United Nation’s Food & Agriculture Organization’s interactive website on the State of Food and Agriculture and see their latest 2019 report which is focused on food loss and waste reduction. 

  • How can I get involved with our regional food system? 

    Visit our homepage to discover some ways you can get involved with our local food system and visit our Resources page to learn more about the local, national, and global food systems.