Ken Meter talks about food systems


Great points from Meter at the Illinois Farmers Market Association Thursday:

Community food systems build health, wealth, connection and capacity

Local food may be the best path toward economic recovery in U.S.

If we can’t grow an economy around food, how do we expect to grow it around windmills or technology?

Counting food miles matter less than banding business together to work for a social value.

Farmers often create systems that are often more efficient by reducing energy costs and using “waste” products to do value-added. Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy Ohio sells their skim to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream for a high quality ice cream product. Both businesses are innovating waste reduction and distribution systems that shorten the chain.

Community food systems don’t just measure the multiplier-they build the multiplier.

Southern Illinois farmers (Meter’s study) show that from 1969 to 2010 commodity farmers sold 1.1 billion worth of products and spent 1.1 billion in production costs during the same time.

1.8 billion amount of food bought in Southern Illinois region; 1.7 billion of it was produced outside of the region.

If every person in that region bought 5.00 of local food directly from local farms each week, farms would earn 191 million of new farm income (why not have a 5.00 campaign at farmers markets?)

The promise of permanent markets abroad in the 1970s drove farmers into the “Get big or get out” mindset and into more debt. Those permanent markets disappeared within the generation.

The link between the oil crisis of 1973 can most likely be directly linked to the obesity crisis: the oil crisis in the U.S. led to the rise of the corn economy which added high fructose corn syrup to production.

Viroqua, Wisconsin is a model of an economic development recovery after their national company that had supplied 85 jobs left town. The city government convinced the owner to sell their building for a small amount (explaining to the company that the investment that the county had made for 30 years maybe should be repaid before leaving).
Viroqua used 100,000 square foot building to start to build an entire local food system and expect to replace those 85 jobs within the next 2 years.


History of Food Stamp Usage at Markets

I often refer to the 2010 report “Real Food, Real Choice: Connecting SNAP Recipients With Farmers Markets” that was done by CFSC and FMC. The page that I refer most to is this one, so thought I’d post it here.


Link to the entire report

Community Food Project assistance

Since the Community Food Project RFP is out and proposals are due November 28, this handy new guide should be very useful. As someone who has written one and had it funded, I will say that this grant program is a very useful way to pull off an in-depth pilot for extending and expanding food systems. Good luck to anyone that is working on one.

Leader reflects on CFSC’s closing

Detroit Food Policy Council

For many well-designed food systems, the work started with a food policy council. Many of those had the help of longtime food policy council activist Mark Winne of Community Food Policy Council (CFSC). Winne was one of the early architects and supporter of dozens and dozens of food policy councils and even though there are many other food organizers assisting communities now, he still travels constantly throughout North America. Last May, CFSC hosted a very informative food policy conference which put many of those organizers and teams center stage to share their ideas. When people take the time to figure out their policy barriers to healthy food communities and create a democratic process to work in, they find themselves light years ahead when the sticky collaboration times come.
The Detroit council has excellent information on their site and many documents to use to research your own food policy work.
And, of course, so does CFSC:

Senate Briefing on local food policy issues

Request for proposals for Farm To Cafeteria conference

“6th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Digging In!” Burlington, Vermont August 2-5, 2012
Presented by: National Farm to School Network

Proposal Application Period: February 8, 2012 – March 7, 2012

No proposals will be accepted after March 7, 2012