University of Missouri Extension Mary Hendrickson
Community Food Systems and Sustainable Agriculture Program

Community Food Systems: Visions of a Different Food System

Our current food system is oriented to long-distance relationships that are primarily economic in nature. We are used to obtaining food from around the world at any time of the day, night or season that we demand it. As farmers we are used to being price-takers at the whims of the market. The following resources provide information on envisioning new food systems that are oriented to personal relationships, specific places and social as well as economic interactions. In order to achieve a different system, we need to consider our goals, what attributes a new system may have, and what tools we need to accomplish it.

After you explore these resources, you might ask yourself:
  1. What does "community food system" really mean? What are the common definitions and goals?
  2. How do I know a community food system when I see one? What are its attributes and elements?
  3. What actions can I take to create or strengthen community food systems?

Community Food Systems: Tools for Making the Vision Reality

Community Food Systems need a myriad of tools to make them work well. One of the best ways is to find out what's going on in your community is by doing a community food assessment.

From there, groups and communities can go in many different directions. Some choose to explore promotion and marketing opportunities on a community wide level. Other groups will focus on alternative marketing outlets for farmers, like school cafeterias. Communities will find the need to address food policy issues like health regulations, food system planning, community-wide promotion, and integrated responses to community food systems. One way that many communities are doing this is through Food Policy Councils. Don't forget to evaluate success and make it better!

Community Food Systems: Real World Examples

The following examples all come from the Midwest and illustrate the opportunities and successes possible in building community food systems.

Resources for Building Community Food Systems

Food System Data

Questions, comments: Mary Hendrickson
A Vision of a Localized Food System
Sources of Local Food in Missouri
Links of Interest