Defining "local"

As John posted below, defining "local food" is not necessarily the easiest thing to do. However, the Douglas County Food Policy Council is doing its best to attempt this task. As a group, we discuss supporting local food and looking at policies that would allow further growth in this area. But unless we have some parameters surrounding this enigmatic term, we cannot be clear about the goals we are striving toward.

Recently, I returned from the Community Food Security Coalition conference in New Orleans where I was inspired by community leaders from all across the nation and beyond acting on behalf of the "food movement." One of the main points emphasized at every workshop I attended was the importance of engaging the entire community in developing ideas and action.

So, we would like to get your feedback on some possible definitions of "local." Below, I have included the first draft of ideas, which includes two different phases for the regional focus, and a list of possible priorities or guidelines that are directly linked to our by laws as the Food Policy Council.

Keep in mind that one of the ways we will be using this definition is in the compiling and distributing of a large research document being done by Rhonda Janke and Ruth Gibson at Kansas State University. This study is an in-depth look into the tri-county food shed showing where our food comes from, what we are eating, where we buy it, etc. Hopefully that will help everyone to understand the regional focus that is included. We also borrowed some ideas from Our Local Food.

Please take a look and feel free to leave comments that we will take into consideration in this process. Thank you!

Phase 1: Food products which are produced, processed, prepared, raised, or grown within the tri-county region. This includes Douglas, Jefferson, and Leavenworth County.

Phase 2: Food products which are produced, processed, prepared, raised, or grown, in the Kaw river Valley: Atchison, Douglas, Geary, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Leavenworth, Pottawatomie, Riley, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, or Wyandotte Counties, and counties that adjoin Douglas.

Possible priorities connected to goal statements:

A. Economic development and entrepreneurial opportunities related to local food production and consumption: Food that enhances our local economy; Keeping food dollars within our local economy.

B. Improved health outcomes: Food with highest nutritional value possible, that is safe, will not cause harm to consumer

C. Positive environmental quality impacts: Food that is grown sustainably, without harmful additives, and with soil and land management in mind

D. Increased access to, and distribution of wholesome, local food: Food that travels a relatively short distance to cut down on transportation costs, that is accessible (physically, financially, and culturally) to the entire community

E. Support for local producers of sustainable food products: Food that not only benefits the consumer, but also assures that the producer has a sustainable livelihood; food that does not restrict small scale farmers that are growing sustainably, but instead encourages relationships between consumer and producer

F. Identification, preservation, and/or sustainable development of local resources including soil, agricultural land, important breeds/cultivars, water, skilled labor, capital, and markets: Food sources that strive for awareness and incorporation of sustainable practices in these areas

G. Increased education and awareness on the part of Douglas County residents regarding the benefits of locally produced foods The Council seeks to identify the benefits, challenges and opportunities for a successful, sustainable local food system in Douglas County: Producers that have strong relationships with individual community members, organizations, and businesses that will encourage the community to have a more personal involvement in food production and the food system as a whole

Thank you for your input!

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