The food system has, until recently, been conspicuously absent from city and regional planning practice, education, and research. Earlier in the twentieth century, food issues were a central concern of the nascent planning profession. Primary and archival source materials examined for this paper indicate that the planning profession's interest in the sources of food and the efficiency of its route to consumers evolved through three stages. During the height of the City Beautiful movement between 1900 and 1909, planners like Charles Mulford Robinson saw urban markets as public nuisances best eliminated from city centers and residential districts. From 1909 to roughly World War I, planners such as George B. Ford embraced a more scientific approach to researching and addressing food distribution problems. In the interwar period, Clarence Stein and other notable regional planners began to consider the food system in its entirety. The modern food system planning movement is largely unaware of this important early legacy. In conclusion, two possible explanations are offered for why, despite a promising start, the food system failed to become a core discipline within the larger planning profession. Planners' earlier experiences with food industry executives and high-ranking officials of government agricultural agencies may offer meaningful insights into contemporary food system planning challenges and goals.

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