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Smith College

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Iceland and Greenland: Climate Change and The Arctic


Food security in the arctic and subarctic is an area of growing research and concern as climate change continues to alter the availability of traditional foods eaten in remote areas, especially as shipping food has questionable sustainability and contributes to rising CO2 levels. Previous research has noted changes in the Icelandic diet making it more reliant on foreign imports, although there is still strong localized agriculture. Because of its geothermal activity, Iceland has a unique advantage over other highlatitude countries in growing food with a minimal carbon footprint, although that potential is unequal throughout the country. This study utilized available data for current food imports and domestic production, as well as the energetic costs of food production in greenhouses in Iceland in order to assess the maximum sustainability of meeting current food needs on the island nation. Interviews were also conducted with local farmers and local food experts to assess Icelandic farming techniques, struggles, and production. As climate change is likely to cause drastic changes to the limits of sustainability, the sustainability of food imports and production were placed within the context of local climate changes in Iceland. Based on estimates for the emissions related to local and imported vegetables and their path from farm to consumer, Iceland should continue to build farming infrastructure and increase reliance on local produce as a way to increase food sustainability. This will also increase the food security of the country by relying on systems that will not as easily be thrown into disarray by world conflict or natural disasters. In order to further improve the sustainability and security of food systems, Iceland can also implement local changes to limit farm and food transport emissions.


Environmental Studies | Food Science | Food Studies | Other Food Science | Other Geography | Scandinavian Studies


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