Local Food Systems

How can we improve the health of our food system?

A sustainable solution for a changing economy. Here in the “Breadbasket” of the Midwestern US, we provide grains, meats, dairy, and produce for people around the world. Yet increasing the consumption of locally produced foods can work directly to strengthen and diversify local economies. In supporting local growers, and supporting regional businesses like restaurants and food processors that source their meats, dairy, grains and vegetables from regional suppliers, we can do much to create a more balanced, sustainable food system for our area.

The local foods movement is gaining traction alongside growing interest in related topics: Organic farming, sustainable farming, farm markets, urban agriculture.

What are the benefits of local foods?

For farmers. The local food movement helps agricultural growers and producers find new markets for their food products. The scale is everywhere from the individual family farmer selling direct to consumers at farm markets, to the large-scale distribution of regionally grown food ingredients sold by regional restaurant chains, grocery stores, beer makers, bakeries, and area food processors.

For new and expanding markets. Local foods provide new opportunities to capture entertainment and tourism dollars. Farms can open up to agritourism; restaurants can create exclusive and unique menus with any combination of local, sustainable, and organic foods. Shifting the focus to local and regional food sheds can also cultivate a wider variety of foods that are indigenous to the local land and culture.

For consumers. The local foods idea is equally important for consumers. Locally produced food can offer residents young and old, from rural to urban communities, with greater access to fresh and healthful food; the potential for greater food safety; and a stronger connection to the land.

Where are we helping grow these ideas?

Vandewalle & Associates is involved with local foods in communities around the region–on scales from regional distribution all the way down to product development. Here are some of the places we are working to bring local food to the table:

Waterloo, IA
RiverLoop Public Market
Freeport, IL
Jefferson County
Madison, WI “Healthy City”
Midwest Region “Good to Grow”
Washington Island

Related links:

www.slowfoodwise.org

www.reapfoodgroup.org