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Food Systems   Tags: agriculture, community, local_food, sustainability  

Food systems resources -- including "local food" -- at the UMass Libraries and beyond.
Last Updated: Sep 19, 2016 URL: http://guides.library.umass.edu/foodsystems Print Guide RSS Updates

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Did You Know...?

LOCAVORE was the 2007 Word of the Year for the Oxford American Dictionary!

A locavore is someone who eats food exclusively – or at least primarily – from their local area.


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What is the "Food System?"

The "food system" is:

  • All processes involved in keeping us fed: growing, harvesting, processing (or transforming or changing), packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming and disposing of food and food packages
  • The inputs needed and outputs generated at each step
  • Influenced by social, political, economic and natural environments
  • Dependent on human resources that provide labor, research and education

From Discovering the Food System, a Primer on Community Food Systems


Top 12 Reasons to Eat Locally

Top Twelve Reasons to Eat Locally

  1. Freshness. Locally-grown organic fruits and vegetables are usually harvested within 24 hours of being purchased by the consumer.
  2. Taste. Produce picked and eaten at the height of freshness tastes better.
  3. Nutrition. Nutritional value declines, often dramatically, as time passes after harvest. Because locally-grown produce is freshest, it is more nutritionally complete.
  4. Purity. 80% of American adults say they are concerned about the safety of the food they eat. They worry about residues of pesticides and fungicides. These materials are not permitted in an organic production system either before or after harvest.
  5. Regional Economic Health. Buying locally grown food keeps money within the community. This contributes to the health of all sectors of the local economy, increasing the local quality of life.
  6. Variety. Organic farmers selling locally are not limited to the few varieties that are bred for long distance shipping, high yields, and shelf life. Often they raise and sell wonderful unusual varieties you will never find on supermarket shelves.
  7. Soil Stewardship. Soil health is essential for the survival of our species. Conventional farming practices are rapidly depleting topsoil fertility. Creating and sustaining soil fertility is the major objective for organic growers.
  8. Energy Conservation. Buying locally grown organic foods decreases dependence on petroleum, a non-renewable energy source. One fifth of all petroleum now used in the United States is used in Agriculture. Organic production systems do not rely upon the input of petroleum derived fertilizers and pesticides and thus save energy at the farm. Buying from local producers conserves additional energy at the distribution level.
  9. Environmental Protection. Soil erosion; pesticide contamination of soil, air, and water; nitrate loading of waterways and wells; and elimination of planetary biodiversity are some of the problems associated with today's predominate farming methods. Organic growers use practices that protect soil, air, and water resources; and that promote biodiversity.
  10. Cost. Conventional food processes don't reflect the hidden costs of the environmental, health and social consequences of predominate production practices- of, for instance, correcting a water supply polluted by agricultural runoff, or obtaining medical treatment for pesticide induced illness suffered by farmers or consumers. When these and other hidden costs are taken into account, as they should be, locally grown organic foods are seen clearly for the value they are, even if they cost a few pennies more.
  11. A Step Toward Regional Food Self Reliance. Dependency on far away food sources leaves a region vulnerable to supply disruptions, and removes any real accountability of producer to consumer. It also tends to promote larger, less diversified farms that hurt both the environment and local economies/communities. Regional food production systems, on the other hand, keep the food supply in the hands of many, providing interesting job and self-employment opportunities, and enabling people to influence how their food is grown.
  12. Passing on the Stewardship Ethic. When you buy locally produced organic food you cannot help but raise the consciousness of your friends and family about how food buying decisions can make a difference in your life and the life of your community; and about how this basic act is connected to planetary issues.

From Locavores.com


Questions about Food Systems?


Did You Know?

86% of America’s fruits and vegetables are grown near metro regions, where they are in the path of development.

And every hour 125 acres (1.2 million acres annually) of farm and ranch land is gobbled up by development.

That's why supporting local food and farms is more important than ever!

(From No Farms No Food campaign of American Farmland Trust)

© 2016 University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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