The Future of Food in Suburbia
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This thesis addresses resilience for the future of Canadian suburbs, through the lens of buildings and food, particularly against the backdrop of peak oil and climate change. Food access is an integral part of how a city sustains itself. There is growing evidence that the current global food system, the one that feeds many cities today, is “broken” or at least at risk. It has, in the past, produced an abundance of food. It has also brought along a number of unintended consequences, has neglected to embed equitable distribution patterns, and when faced with peak oil and climate change, risks some form of collapse. This thesis focuses on the food distribution question. It suggests a new food system model for the City of Mississauga that couples the region's local systems with global networks in a set of local/global relationships. The research portion of this work provides an overview of the dynamic historical and present relationship between food and city infrastructure, touches on the issues facing suburban resiliency today, and investigates the challenges facing the food retail industry. It then draws lessons from large-scale typologies of urban agriculture being proposed in recent years by architects and urban designers. This work, specifically at the design stage, identifies the suburban supermarket as a local catalyst for transformation. Today, the City of Mississauga is not food secure – that is, it does not rely on a safe, adequate, sustainable, or appropriate food supply. This thesis investigates how local and sustainable food systems can be integrated into the urban fabric and systems sustaining suburbs today. It further seeks to build on existing conditions, and answer how the suburban big-box typology, preferred by retailers, can contribute to food security.