This Food Systems Existing Conditions Report represents the first attempt to characterize a wide range of food issues as part of the City’s comprehensive planning efforts. It includes a summary of what is currently known about Portland’s food system, conclusions from national studies about the impact and intersections between food, health and community design, and potential policy options the City could explore to support the food system.
Planners have long addressed several of the essentials of life – air quality, water quality and housing – while food has remained off planners’ radar. However, growing awareness about the impact of the food system on climate change, local and regional economies, fossil fuel resources, community health and land use have piqued planners’ interest in recent years. More intersections are now visible between food and what planners already do.
The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is currently updating the City’s 1980 Comprehensive Plan and the 1988 Central City Plan in an effort called the Portland Plan. The Portland Plan is an inclusive, citywide effort to guide the physical, economic, social, cultural and environmental development of Portland over the next 30 years. The plan will build on the work the community did through visionPDX, which captured and fleshed out our shared values of sustainability, equity and accessibility, and community connectedness and distinctiveness.
These efforts represent an opportunity to be more direct about the positive impact these plans can have on our local food system, and to consider further impacts as we plan for the next several decades. The examination of food issues as background to the Portland Plan provides a way for Portland to take the next step in planning for food systems. To inform these planning processes, this report highlights and explores a wide variety of food topics, and attempts to summarize key issues and recommendations. It is intended to contribute to public conversation around food as a planning issue to allow fuller consideration of policy choices and investment priorities.