Resources for plant-based food: Estimating resource use to meet the requirements of urban and peri-urban diets

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The rapid urban growth seen globally in recent years has not been supported by a simultaneous increase in agricultural land and/or crop productivity. Producing crops in (peri-)urban areas shows good potential to provide the vegetable products for a healthy and balanced diet for the growing population, but it has to deal with the local availability of resources. Thus, meeting the food requirements of the urban population as efficiently and robustly as possible is a challenge. This study developed a methodology to estimate the use of resources of urban farming systems to produce energy- and nutrient-dense vegetables capable of meeting human dietary needs. The method was applied to two extremely different cultivation systems (an open field farm and a plant factory with artificial lighting) for the production of seven crops. The results on the resource efficiencies to meet the annual per-capita vegetable requirements are discussed in relation to crop type, local climate and cultivation system. The application of this methodology can support farmers' decisions on the choice of crops and the type of urban farming systems that are most efficient in contributing to a plant-based diet. The results can also be translated into water, energy, and surface area needed to meet the nutritional requirements at a city-regional level.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFood and Energy Security
Issue number3
Early online date3 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • energy use
  • human nutrition
  • open field
  • vegetable crops
  • vertical farming
  • water use efficiency


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