What is "good food?"

Good food can be defined as healthy, green, fair and affordable.

In the local food systems movement, proponents across the country have offered up several definitions of what good food should be. There is a theme underlying these accepted definitions that includes the terms “healthy,” “green,” “fair” and “affordable.” In Michigan, the Michigan Good Food Charter helps residents understand this definition. As we reinvent a food system in Michigan that ensures food access for all and easily connects us to food from a nearby farm as it provides opportunities for Michigan farms to thrive, a definition of good food helps us to make food choices that support the local economy and our health.

Good food can be defined as: Healthy – food that nourishes us and enables us to thrive; Green – food that is produced in an environmentally safe way; Fair – produced in a non-exploitive way and Affordable – food that is accessible by all. Questions that consumers should ask themselves when acquiring food: Is the food close to its original form and minimally processed? Is the food local, from within Michigan? Does the company or producer provide safe and healthy working conditions for employees? Is the item within the consumer’s price range and sold in both small and large grocery stores?

Knowing what good food is helps us to determine how we shop and select our food. Shopping at the local farmers market may take some planning on our parts to change our habit of the day of the week we shop for our food or asking that your local grocer source food from nearby farmers. Choosing to purchase food that has been produced fairly may lead us to reassess what brand of coffee, tea or chocolate we consume. We may need to become more savvy consumers and learn about organic, sustainable and natural terms regarding our food. There may be a nearby farm that sells beef, pork or poultry and eggs that consumers decide to purchase from.

Having a better understanding about what good food is helps all of us make more informed decisions about our food choices. There may be many more opportunities in your local area or food shed that offers you delicious and healthy options. To find local farms in your area check out Michigan Farmers Markets or Michigan Farms.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has educators who provide Community Food Systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact Kathe Hale.

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