local food systems
A food hub here, a farmers’ market there, and CSA’s both here and there—what is the best way to find local foods? In Maine, this question is being addressed by The Maine Food Atlas.
Created by the Maine Network of Community Food Councils, The Maine Food Atlas is designed to map local food assets throughout the state to enhance food security and improve food quality throughout the state.
The Maine Food Atlas is an interactive website that lists local food assets in the following categories: food production, processing and manufacturing, distribution and storage, local food outlets, food access and nutrition, and education and support.
“We’re trying to rebuild community food systems, with less reliance on industrial agriculture and imported foods,” says Ken Morse, coordinator of Maine Network of Community Food Councils.
On August 31, the University of Maine (UMaine) System released a formal request for proposals (RFP) designed to significantly increase sourcing of locally grown foods across its six campuses.
A contract between UMaine and corporate food vendor Aramark will conclude on June 30, 2016, ending a 10-year relationship. The move comes after a coalition of activist groups had lobbied the UMaine system to source more of its food locally.
The Maine Food for the UMaine System project is a coalition of 20 organizations, 170 farmers and more than 1,500 students, faculty and staff within the UMaine system. It’s spearheaded by Farm to Institution New England, Maine Farmland Trust, Real Food Challenge and Environment Maine.
Grass-fed beef, yams, ostrich eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, wild game—all of these and more can be found in or near Temecula, California.
Located in southwestern Riverside County and at the southwest point of the Inland Empire region, Temecula is located in the Temecula Valley, home to many vineyards and wineries.
While Temecula is now a thriving epicenter of the local foods movement, this was not always the case.
When local food artisan and chef Leah Di Bernardo decided to move back to Southern California from New York City (she grew up on both coasts), Riverside County was the last place she thought she would end up. But she landed in Temecula.
Hawaii, known for its beaches and lavish resorts, has become a hotspot for local food and agriculture in recent years.
Hawaii was No. 8 on the 2015 Locavore Index, a list that ranks every state in its commitment to local foods. The list is compiled by Vermont-based local food advocacy organization Strolling of the Heifers.
“The purpose of the index is to stimulate efforts across the country to use more local food in homes, restaurants, schools and institutions,” says Orly Munzing, founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers.
The index takes into account the number of food hubs, farmers’ markets and CSAs, as well as farm-to-school efforts and per capita direct food sales.
San Bernardino County, the largest county in the United States, stretches all the way from Southern California’s Inland Empire to the California-Nevada state line.
In addition to numerous farms and other agricultural businesses, the county is home to Amy’s Farm, a polyculture-oriented farm in Ontario with a focus on education; Huerta del Valle, a robust community garden in Ontario; and the Upland-based Incredible Edible Community Garden.
Thanks to people like Arthur Levine, local and urban agriculture in San Bernardino County is experiencing a burgeoning grassroots movement.
Just north of San Francisco, Mendocino and Lake counties in California are full of small to medium-sized farmers. Many of them sell at local farmers’ markets.
But John Bailey noticed that the time and money many farmers spend just getting their crops to market can make a substantial dent in profits.
“They spend lots of money going to farmers’ markets, but do not earn a profit from farmers’ markets,” says Bailey. “Lots of farmers have no idea how to sell wholesale.”
by Traci Knight
This piece is part of a series exploring the top 10 states in the Strolling of the Heifers 2015 Locavore Index.
Oregon keeps climbing the locavore index according to data compiled in Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based local food advocacy group. Moving from number 14 in 2012 to number 4 in 2015, Oregon is showing a clear commitment to strengthening its regional food system. Chris Schreiner, Executive Director of Oregon Tilth, an organic certification and advocacy agency, helps identify some of the ways that the state has worked to build it’s sustainable, organic and local food network.
The Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) addresses infrastructure and population challenges in the nation’s last frontier in an effort to localize Alaska’s food system.
Founded in 1994, the AMCC works hard to ensure the economics of Alaska’s most bountiful natural resources, its marine life and coastal communities.