What Is A Local Food System?

When we think of food the first place our minds go to may be McDonald’s or something unhealthy or overly processed. Food is a big industry in our society and the fact that we have control of what goes in our bodies, we should be careful of what we put inside them. The industrialized food system has become so big and complex that often times it’s hard to know what we are actually putting in our bodies let alone pronounce some of the ingredients.

Going Local Could Be the Solution

A local food system is a method of food production and distribution that is geographically localized, rather than national and/or international. Local food systems are found within a 100 mile radius and are very important to our society by their sustainable dependability, food security, supporting local economies, and food safety, health, nutrition. They are also known to taste and look better and even help keep taxes down. We can find food systems in farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and retail grocery stores. Not only are we able to feed ourselves nutrients, which we know the process it’s been through, while at the same time strengthening our local economies of our communities and building healthier communities.

Is your food traveling this path?

What’s The Problem?

At the turn of the 20th century food systems operated primarily on a local and regional level. After World War II, and encouraged by U.S. Agriculture Policy, we saw the introduction of large-scale, vertically integrated food production businesses and this significantly changed the way we eat and our relationship to where foods come from. While this fed a lot of people and has led to the growth of a global middle class, It also negatively impacted our environment and local economies. Not to mention, it also altered our value system by creating a culture that thrives on supersizing, dollar meals and hyper convenience.

How do we turn the tide on a problem that has become so immense and subtly pervasive as the issue of modern food?

Helping Local Producers & Consumers Find Each Other

To restore the regional infrastructure that withered the rise of national distributors, we must make it easier for local producers and consumers to find each other. What our nation needs is a system of local food hubs that can process and bundle local foods and deliver them to the places where America eats.

Food hubs are also being organized to provide wider access to markets for small to mid-sized producers, and increase access to fresh healthy food for consumers, including underserved areas and food deserts, as illustrated below. Food hubs play a big part in the economy as they manage aggregation, distribution, and marketing of the local foods of source-identified foods from local and regional producers.

An integrated food system.

Food Hubs can also easily be found, one source you can use to find local ones is Agrilicious.org. Agrilicious is a website that provides locations where you can easily find foods you’re looking for such as dairy and fruits and vegetables. It’s good to be aware of these resources because it gives us the chance to make smarter choices and even help out the community when we are looking for better foods.

How do we create a local food hub for Delray? Can you think of a place that would be a good location for a food hub venue? What regional foods can you envision being distributed from a Delray-based food hub?

Join WiseTribe for a Wisdom Exchange on community food solutions to kick-off a conversation for growing a local food system which can strengthen our economy and our community.



Erin Martin is a contributing writer to WiseTribe and she is double majoring in Journalism and Sociology at Florida Atlantic University. Her dream is to pursue a career in Public Relations that combines her passions for learning, community, and valuing all living things. She cherishes her family and considered herself very lucky to have twin sister has her best friend.

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