It is great time of year to support your local food system

Buying your food from local producers as well as patronizing businesses and restaurants that purchase locally grown products is one practice to support a local food system.

What is a food system? All of the steps involved from planting, growing, harvesting, processing, delivering, purchasing and consuming food are part of a food system. Food systems are global as well as local. Throughout the country, there is a growing interest in developing and supporting local community food systems.

According to the Michigan Good Food Charter, “A food system is all the people, processes and places involved with moving food from the seed the farmer plants to your dinner table, your local restaurant or the cafeteria lunch line.”

As a consumer, what does it mean to support a local food system? Buying your food from local producers as well as patronizing businesses and restaurants that purchase locally grown products is one practice to support a local food system. This enhances the local economy by recirculating dollars within the community. The money that is spent with local farmers and growers all stays close to home and is reinvested with businesses and services in your community.

As a consumer, what opportunities can you find to support a local food system? Are there local farmers’ markets or growers nearby with roadside stands or selling from their home where you can shop? Many farmers’ markets sell a variety of food products. Vegetables and fruits are popular, but also look for meat products, honey, maple syrup, cheese, eggs, flowers, plants and baked goods.

If you own or manage a restaurant, consider purchasing locally grown or produced foods for your menu items. If you also have retail space, consider selling Michigan products. This is a great way to support the local food system. Michigan State University Extension recommends using Michigan MarketMaker to locate food products. The purpose of Michigan MarketMaker is - “Connecting willing markets and quality sources of food from farm and fisheries to fork in Michigan”.

Another source to find local growers in your area is the Michigan Farmers Market Association database or the Michigan Farm Market & Agricultural Tourism Directory. Check with your local chamber of commerce, they may have a listing of farmers markets and local growers in the area.

Michigan State University Extension has educators working across Michigan who provide Community Food Systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact an educator by conducting a search with MSU Extension’s Find an Expert search tool and using the keywords, Community Food Systems.

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