Droves of people have turned to local food as a way to retreat from our broken industrial food system. From rural outposts to city streets, they are sowing, growing, selling, and eating food produced close to home-and they are crying out for agricultural reform. All this has made "local food" into everything from a movement buzzword to the newest darling of food trendsters.
But now it's time to take the conversation to the next level. That's exactly what Philip Ackerman-Leist does in Rebuilding the Foodshed, in which he refocuses the local-food lens on the broad issue of rebuilding regional food systems that can replace the destructive aspects of industrial agriculture, meet food demands affordably and sustainably, and be resilient enough to endure potentially rough times ahead.
Changing our foodscapes raises a host of questions. How far away is local? How do you decide the size and geography of a regional foodshed? How do you tackle tough issues that plague food systems large and small-issues like inefficient transportation, high energy demands, and rampant food waste? How do you grow what you need with minimum environmental impact? And how do you create a foodshed that's resilient enough if fuel grows scarce, weather gets more severe, and traditional supply chains are hampered?
Showcasing some of the most promising, replicable models for growing, processing, and distributing sustainably grown food, this book points the reader toward the next stages of the food revolution. It also covers the full landscape of the burgeoning local-food movement, from rural to suburban to urban, and from backyard gardens to large-scale food enterprises.
For a somewhat wonky book about food policy, Rebuilding the Foodshed is unusually humorous and open-minded. Vermont farmer and professor Ackerman-Leist ruminates his way through the conundrums and possibilities of local food, demonstrating how words and their definitions can shed light on and transform our understanding of the rapidly evolving, often confusing, emotion-fraught questions of what people eat, where the food comes from, who has access to what, and how the answers to these questions affect the lives of eaters and growers. Let's call food production farming, he suggests. "Farming is about energy flows. 'Food production' is about a terminal point in the act of agriculture." He finds solutions in the actions of pioneers of food production, distribution, and education, including D-Town Farm-a "step into transcendence" in a deteriorating Detroit suburb that recycles waste to grow vegetables and mushrooms, harvest honey, and help revitalize the devastated local economy. Ackerman-Leist also examines New North Florida Cooperative's farm-to-school program. With insight, he demonstrates how communities can bridge and transcend the "false divides" he pinpoints in the local-food conversation: urban/rural, small-scale/large-scale, local/international, and all/nothing.
1. Location, location, values
2. The geography of local
3. How far should local go?
6. Food security
7. Food justice
9. Market value
10. Marketplace values
11. Bringing it all back home
12. Collaborative possibilities
13. Farmland security
14. Bridging the divides