Promoting Sustainable Local Food Systems

Consumers around the world can make a difference by choosing to vote with their dollars to support local and regional food systems. There are a globalization: development of world-wide economic system energy: technically, the ability to perform work; the content of a substance that allows it to be useful as a fuel environment: surroundings legumes: beans, peas and related plants biological: related to living organisms

Sustainable agriculture is a method of farming that minimizes environmental damage and depletion of resources. To be successful, sustainable agriculture requires a commitment from food producers as well as food consumers. [JLM Visuals. Reproduced by permission.]

number of ways that individuals can support and help to sustain food systems in their area.

Farmers markets. Buying fresh food from local farmers markets supports family farms and circulates money within the community. Organic foods should be purchased, if possible, since they are grown with little or no artificial pesticides or fertilizers.

Community and school gardens. These gardens provide fresh produce, particularly for underserved populations in low-income and poverty-stricken neighborhoods. This increases the dietary quality and ensures a measure of food security.

Community-supported agriculture (CSA). In this type of arrangement, individuals buy shares the harvest of a farm before the crops are planted. In return, individuals receive fresh fruits and vegetables and sometimes local meats, cheeses, flowers, and eggs, on a weekly or prearranged basis.

Pick-your-own farms (U-Pick-It) and roadside stands. At some rural farms, consumers are allowed to pick their own fresh fruits and vegetables. This can serve as a social outing for urban families who drive to rural roadside stands.

These practices help consumers choose foods grown using agricultural practices that keep water sources clean, support healthy soil, and encourage wildlife conservation. A healthy and successful food system emphasizes support for local sources of food production and processing, encourages and supports environmental responsibility, and provides economic stability all within the context of a local or regional area. Sustainable food systems also encompass and emphasize such larger issues as stable farm families, food security and access, community self-reliance, and even entrepreneurship. Sustainable food systems provide hope for a sustainable future. see also Famine; Food Insecurity; Organic Foods; Pesticides.

Carlos Robles

Internet Resources

American Farmland Trust. "Farming on the Edge: Sprawling Development Threatens Americas Best Farmland." Available from <http://www.farmland.org/farmin-gontheedge>

Deumling, D.; Wackernagel, M.; and Monfreda C. "Eating Up the Earth: How Sustainable Food Systems Shrink Our Ecological Footprint." Agriculture Footprint Brief, July 2003. Available from <http://www.RedefiningProgress.org>

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Studying Food Supply and Distribution Systems to Cities in Developing Countries and Countries in Transition: Methodological and Operational Guide, revised edition. Available from <http://www.fao.org>

Wilkins, J. "Community Food Systems: Linking Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture." Cornell Cooperative Extension, Food and Nutrition Available from <http://www. cce.cornell.edu/food>

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