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Through integrating community and modeling efforts, we can evaluate impacts and tradeoffs of
food system interventions.


What types of urban food policies, programs, and initiatives support farmers, ranchers, regional commmunities and economies?



Agent-based modeling allows for the simulation of complex systems, and the emergent behavior that may result from  he autonomous actions of agents with each other and with their environment. In this case, integrating economic data, social decision making factors, biophysical crop data, and life cycle analysis allows us to model complex rural to urban food chains across several Colorado commodities. In focusing on rural-urban linkages, this model allows us to simulate a variety of potential changes to the Denver food policy environment, and to observe any resulting effects or feedbacks throughout various stages of the supply chain, from school purchasing decisions to potential changes in producer planting regimes, which may effect environmental outcomes include soil health and CO2 emissions.


Life Cycle Assesment Model (LCA)

Environmental impact representants an important metric for understanding the food supply change. The team is developing systems level models that couple with life cycle inventory data to understand the greenhouse gas emissions of the different food systems being investigated. The work focuses on understanding the changes in GHGs as a function of disruptions to the system.

BioPhysical Models

Crop models are powerful biophysical computer software that
allow for estimating yield of a variety of crops. Their results feed the initial step of the food supply chain. These models require input information such as cultivar parameters, crop management practices, weather and soil data. The team is integrating publicly available climate and soil profile data with open source process-based crop models as web services. This work facilitates the access to updated yield estimates when crop management practices change to support new policy adoptions.

Econometric Model

The econometric model focuses on households with students. We use regression analysis to understand the relationship between the meals students acquire at school and the overall
healthfulness of a household’s food acquisitions, measured via the Healthy Eating Index (HEI). The team is studying how this relationship changes based on the healthfulness of the household’s diet, and participation in – or eligibility for – food assistance programs. Results will be integrated into the agent based model.

Mapping Tool

The Colorado Food Systems mapping and reporting tool aggregates relevant food systems indicators – including those collected as part of this research project – and makes them available to all stakeholders. We hope that this map is useful to communities throughout the state as food system initiatives are planned, implemented and evaluated for the social, environmental, and economic effects.


Contact us by email and we’d be happy to answer any questions you have about our rural-urban connection efforts!

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