Robust optimization evaluation of reliance on locally produced foods

Abstract

While local food production may be beneficial in terms of developing the local economy and reducing greenhouse gases from transportation, sustainability strategies focused on local food production may generate their own risks due to yield variability. We have developed a robust optimization (RO) model to determine the minimum amount of land (cropland and pasture) required to grow food items that would satisfy a local population’s (accounting for gender and age) calorie and nutrient needs. This model has been applied to Boone County, Missouri, which has a population of approximately 170,000. Boone County is 1790 km2, with 16% of the land defined as cropland and 30% defined as pasture. The model includes 27 nutrients from 17 potential foods that could be produced: six fruits and vegetables, five grains and six animal-sourced foods. Yield estimates are based on the predominate methods of agriculture in the USA. We first run our model assuming no variability, using the midpoint yield estimates. Then, to quantify uncertainty in yield for different food types, we use historical yield data over 10 years to estimate this variability and run our RO model under these variability estimates. We compare the two model results to illustrate the impact of data uncertainty on meeting sustainable local food for communities. Solutions suggest that nutrition needs can be met for the Boone County population within the land area defined.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

References

  1. Bedoussac L, Journet E-P, Hauggaard-Nielsen H, Naudin C, Corre-Hellou G, Jensen ES, Prieur L, Justes E (2015) Ecological principles underlying the increase of productivity achieved by cereal-grain legume intercrops in organic farming. A review. Agron Sust Dev 35(3):911–935

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ben-Tal A, Ghaoui LE, Nemirovski A (2009) Robust optimization. Princeton University Press, Princeton

    Book  Google Scholar 

  3. Briend A, Darmon N, Ferguson E, Erhardt JG (2003) Linear programming: a mathematical tool for analyzing and optimizing children’s diets during the complementary feeding period. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 36:12–22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Buzby JC, Wells HF, Hyman J (2014) The estimated amount, value, and calories of postharvest food losses at the retail and consumer levels in the United States. United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service, Bull Number 121

  5. Clark KH, Nicholas KA (2013) Introducing urban food forestry: a multifunctional approach to increase food security and provide ecosystem services. Landsc Ecol 28:1649–1669

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Costello C, Xue X, Howarth RW (2015) Comparison of production-phase environmental impact metrics derived at the farm and national-scale for United States agricultural commodities. Environ Res Lett 10(11):114004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Johnson T, Rossi J, Hendrickson M, Cantrell R, Scott JR (2014) Economic impacts of local food systems in the rural midwest: evidence from Missouri and Nebraska

  8. Low SA, Adalja A, Beaulieu E, Key N, Martinez S, Melton A, Perez A, Ralston K, Stewart H, Suttles S, Vogel S, Jablonski BBR (2015)Trends in U.S. local and regional food systems. AP-068, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service

  9. Mariola MJ (2008) The local industrial complex? Questioning the link between local foods and energy use. Agric Hum Values 25(2):193–196

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Martinez S, Hand M, Da Pra M, Pollack S, Ralston K, Smith T, Vogel S, Clark S, Lohr L, Low S, Newman C (2010) Local food systems: concepts, impacts, and issues. ERR 97, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service

  11. Monaco F, Sali G, Mazzocchi C, Corsi S (2016) Optimizing agricultural land use options for complying with food demand: evidences from linear programming in a metropolitan area. Aestimum 68:45–59

    Google Scholar 

  12. Mount PA (2012) Local food, scale and conventionalization: mid-scale farms and the governance of “Local Beef” Chains. Ph.D. thesis, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. https://atrium2.lib.uoguelph.ca/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10214/3971/UG_Thesis_Mount_2012.pdf. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  13. National Land Cover Database (NLCD) (2011) http://www.mrlc.gov/nlcd11_data.php. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  14. Peters CJ, Bills NL, Lembo AJ, Wilkins JL, Fick GW (2009) Mapping potential foodsheds in New York State: a spatial model for evaluating the capacity to localize food production. Renew Agric Food Syst 24(1):72–84

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Smith J, Pearce BD, Wolfe MS (2012) A European perspective for developing modern multifunctional agroforestry systems for sustainable intensification. Renew Agric Food Syst 27(4):323–332

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. United States Census Bureau (2016) http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_14_1YR_S0101&prodType=table. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  17. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), national nutrient database for standard reference release 28. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  18. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP). http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/myplate_miplato/table3.pdf. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  19. USDA, Economic Research Service (ERS) (2016) Food Availability (Per Capita) Data System. http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-availability-(per-capita)-data-system/.aspx. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  20. USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) http://quickstats.nass.usda.gov/. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  21. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) (2009) Balancing your Animals with your Forage: Small Scale Solutions for your Farm. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1167344.pdf. Accessed 13 Oct 2016

  22. Weber C, Matthews HS (2008) Food-miles and the relative climate impacts of food choices in the United States. Environ Sci Technol 42(10):3508–3513

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Zumkehr A, Campbell JE (2015) The potential for local croplands to meet U.S. food demand. Frontiers. Ecology 13(5):244–248

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ronald G. McGarvey.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Dundar, B., Costello, C. & McGarvey, R.G. Robust optimization evaluation of reliance on locally produced foods. Environ Syst Decis 37, 34–41 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10669-016-9617-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Land use
  • Local food production
  • Robust optimization