Our Food System
A term representing the full set of activities from production all the way through to consumption of food, our food system is complex, dynamic and not without weaknesses. In their efforts to improve the local situation overall, specific initiatives to address the issues in our food system--like local food security initiatives--often focus on particular aspects of this interconnected system such as local self-reliance or local hunger. Initially used within the context of international development and aid to starving populations overseas, the term food security is not well defined within the North American context. Here, hunger, though not widespread in local communities, is persistent and cannot be addressed by localized food movements or organic agriculture. However, all of these related issues contribute to our understanding of our food system.
A significant amount of research now supports the importance of community food security, which exists, "when all citizens obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes healthy choices, community self reliance and equal access for everyone" (Bellows and Hamm, 2003). Taking a systems approach to community food security encourages us to follow the food system and to better understand some of these comlexities.
We encourage an open discussion around each and all of these topics related to our food system. Supporting or adapting our current food system in the face of population growth or global climate change will require that we better understand these issues. Increasingly, studies also point to the relationships between community food systems, the built environment and healthy food choices. Click here for Links to other online resources supporting community food security and local food systems.