Regarding the issue of local food systems, I largely agree with your comments
on it being a proxy for people caring about where their food coming from.
I have discussions with people here in California who only want to promote
food coming from their county, despite the fact that their county is part of
a major metropolitan area. So selling food grown in one county in another
county 10 miles away is considered not to be local.
To me that is an extreme position. In a survey I did a few years back of
farmers selling at certified farmers' markets in Los Angeles County, the
median distance that they travelled to get to the market from their farm was
around 100 miles. Many come from Fresno or Dinuba which is a 4-5 hr drive. I
consider them as being part of our local food system, perhaps because of
their direct marketing connection. Perhaps it is more than geography that
makes a local food system local.
I prefer the term "community food system" advocated by UC Sustainable Ag
Research and Education Program. According to Gail Feenstra and Dave Campbell,
" Participants (in community food systems) are motivated by desires to limit
community dependency on an unstable global economy, to create jobs and
enhance the local economy, and to satisy the growing hunger for a more direct
and empowering connection to the food they eat. The aim is not complete local
self-sufficiency, but a move in a direction that combines equitable trade
with a primary focus on increasing the local community's self-reliance and
Other reasons/benefits for a community food system include the recycling of
local dollars into local economies, and a greater sense of control over the
food system. Inherent in this concept of community food system, I believe is
a preference for small-scale decentralized production and an aversion to
corporate controlled production and distribution methods. Can a supermarket
or a factory farm be part of a local food system? Yes of course. Are they
part of a community food system? Most people would probably say not. One is
descriptive, the other prescriptive, much like the foodshed concept.
Community Food Security Coalition
Po Box 209
Venice CA 90294