john hendrickson (JHENDRIK@macc.wisc.edu)
Mon, 03 Apr 95 09:54 CDT
Chances are you might hear a number of responses from Madison,
Wisconsin regarding your query about foodsheds. Quite a number
of people at the University of Wisconsin have been galvanized by
the concept and application of the foodshed. Another posting
correctly pointed you in the direction of the Arthur Getz article
in the journal Permaculture Activist. The earliest known use of
the word is in the extremely interesting and telling book _How
Great Cities are Fed_ by W.P. Hedden, published in 1929. It
seems that as far back as the 1920s people were becoming
concerned about how far food traveled and the growing complexity
of the food system. This book describes the flow of food into
New York. It may be at your library covered with dust.
This word also harkens back - and not too far back - to the term
milkshed. Milk, due to its perishibility and bulk remained exclusively
a local commodity up until a few decades ago.
Basically, each city had its own milkshed until dairy plants
merged and long distance transport became more feasible (due
primarily to relatively cheap oil, of course).
Jack Kloppenburg, Steve Stevenson and I have written an article
elaborating on and attempting to define the term foodshed as well
as suggesting what it means to conduct foodshed analysis. Look
for this article in the forthcoming book _Home Territiries:
Essays on Community and the Land_ edited by William Vitek and Wes
Jackson. Basically we take the position that the term foodshed
should be more than an analytical tool but a word that describes
an actual place: a self-reliant, regional food system.
The appeal of the word foodshed over "food system" is that it so
vividly creates an image of food moving across a landscape to a
particular place, a city, in much the same dendritic pattern that
water moves through a watershed in streams and rivers and into a
large body of water. This of course conjurs up lots of neat
metaphors and symbolisms.
I know of numerous examples of how eaters (consumers) have been
made aware of the importance and benefits of local food
production. I will take some time later this week to compile
some of the projects that I know of and send them your way.
Briefly, one of the more exciting ways that eaters are connecting
to local farms is the rapidly growing Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA) movement. My graduate thesis will be an
examination of CSA within the framework of the foodshed.
I will also briefly mention two efforts going on here in Madison
and the University of Wisconsin. The Foodshed Working is a
collection of students, professors, and citizens that are working
to promote the foodshed idea and encourage the consumption of
local food. Contact: Sally Leong at SAL@plantpath.wisc.edu. The
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at UW has been conducting
a seminar on Regionally-Reliant Food Systems and is in the process
of formulating a research and outreach agenda for work in this area.
For more information, contact me (address below) or Steve Stevenson
Good luck and I would appreciate it if you posted a summary of
what you receive to your query to the SANET group. Thanks.
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
University of Wisconsin-Madison