Although these theories of behavioral mimicry and extroversion have been criticized on the basis of empirical evidence (Odeyé and Bricas 1985; Requier-Desjardins 1989, on food in Africa; Appadurai 1996, more generally), they implicitly support other theories of the “Westernization” of food (see studies by Popkin, Pingali, Usitalo, Goodland, etc. Marie Ruel is the director of the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division from the International Food Policy Research Institute and member of CGIAR’s Program Management Committee for Agriculture for food and health. However, this fight against the creation of food deserts does not always include maintaining small stores where products can be sold at relatively high prices. Urban areas generally have plenty of food and is available in a wide variety of forms, from fresh to prepared to packaged, in a range of retail outlets, from traditional markets to corner shops to high-end supermarkets, as well as in local and international formal and informal restaurants and fast food chains


The fact that cereals are being brought to the forefront in discussions about food addiction must not obscure the fact that cities are already connected to their hinterland. Global data from 100 countries shows that poor urban households are less likely to be covered by social safety net programs. In middle-income countries, the gap between urban and rural areas is as high as 24 percentage points. Economic distancing through the multiplication of intermediaries between agricultural producers and consumers for food distribution, processing, storage and distribution;. Yet people living in large urban areas often come from different cultural backgrounds and bring with them the diverse diets of their respective cultures, potentially helping to diversify the food available to all residents of these areas


First, although income is crucial for food security and a healthy diet, many poor urban households depend on low-paid and insecure jobs in the informal sector. These few figures clearly show that urban food supply problems are very closely linked to consumer mobility practices when shopping. Overall, the agri-food sector accounts for 15-20% of total greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 11-15% from agricultural production alone and 15-18% from land-use changes primarily due to deforestation, of which 70 to 90% are due to the expansion of arable land. A recent analysis of surveys on food consumption patterns in West Africa, a region where food imports have increased sharply since the 1960s, revealed the high dependence of cities

on imported rice and wheat.

As transportation costs are lowered, cities are getting their food supplies from increasingly remote production areas. The search for new approaches can be seen as a response to this distancing and individualization while reassuring food consumers. These new measures are much more in line with the comprehensive and widely supported definition of food security at the 1996 World Food Summit, which states that “food security exists when all people have physical and economic access at all times to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food

preferences for an active and healthy life.