There is a growing body of research and information related to food systems, and their role in the health and well-being of individuals, communities, regions and nations. Issues related to nutrition & health, food safety, food security, economics, environmental preservation, civic vitality, energy, and agriculture are associated with the structure and function of food systems.
A number of initiatives have arisen that focus on supporting (or restoring) local and regional food production, processing, distribution and consumption, and the cultural infrastructure necessary to sustain these systems. Specific resources and programs have been created to assist growers, community developers, institutions, businesses, educators, researchers and consumers. Many of these efforts are oriented toward creating stronger, more resilient local and regional supply chains, and helping build more direct, mutually beneficial relationships between each link, from farm (or garden) to plate.
This Local and Regional Food Systems Guide (www.tinyurl.com/lfsys) is intended to provide an index of initiatives and resources related to the study and development of local and regional food systems, or "foodsheds". Foodsheds have been described as:
"locally or regionally based food systems comprised of diversified farms using sustainable practices to supply fresh, nutritious foodstuffs to smallscale processors and consumers to whom producers are linked by the bonds of community as well as economy. The landscape is understood as part of that community"(Kloppenburg, Hendrickson and Stevenson; Agriculture and Human Values 13:3; 33-42, 1996)