Sunday, August 13, 2017

Strong Towns on "10 ways to promote local/regional food in your town."

Photo credit: Strong Towns.

Maybe in New Albany in high summer, though it would be quite challenging.


You can't have a strong economy if your town is entirely dependent on other regions for your citizens' most basic needs. A healthy local food system is an excellent indicator that your town is a Strong Town—and that your economy is on the right track to becoming antifragile and self sufficient to meet its other needs, too. That's why the Strong Towns Strength Test asks, "If you wanted to eat only locally-produced food for a month, could you?". If your city can't answer "yes" to that question, you should read on.

Hint: Local food is about much more than farmers markets, so I won't hold my breath waiting for DNA to jump right on it. Wagons circling 'round the sinecure, and all that.


There are many reasons to promote local food in your community: freshness; knowing where your food came from and how it was grown; supporting local farmers; having an alternative to fruits and vegetables that were trucked across the country from California or Florida.

Local and regional processing, distribution, and marketing “infrastructures” once existed, but then atrophied with the move to national distribution.

Today, if every farmer in Ohio pledged to grow for local markets, and every Ohio consumer vowed to buy local, we would have hungry people and wasted food. That’s because we lack the supply chain – the processing, distribution, and marketing “infrastructure” – to move food from farm to fork. I believe institutional markets are the key to developing that infrastructure. Most institutions cannot accept, say, a truckload of lettuce fresh from the field. They want it washed and trimmed and packaged – meaning the farm itself, or a third-party business, would need to provide those services. In either case, the service would add value and create jobs.

Just the 10 tags. Click through to read the essential explanations.

With that in mind, consider these 10 ways to promote local/regional food in your town:

1. Don’t focus on farmers markets, community gardens, and CSAs.

2. Do recognize the importance of slaughterhouses and trucks.

3. Get local-purchasing commitments from schools, hospitals, colleges, and other institutions.

4. Build a network of local farmers who will collaborate.

5. Enlist the support of existing food processing and distribution businesses.

6. Reach out to public health officials, economic development officials, food banks, bankers, etc.

7. Use these partners as the base for a local/regional food assessment, plan and council.

8. Don’t call it a Food Policy Council.

9. Build local food economic development infrastructure.

10. A food hub is not a food system.

Get going on any of these steps and you'll be on your way toward a more financially productive local food system.

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