Rich Pirog

Rich Pirog

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Former Director
Center for Regional Food Systems

Rich Pirog is the former director (2016-2022) at the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University. From 2011 through 2015 he was senior associate director at CRFS. Rich was recruited to MSU by Dr. Mike Hamm to help design and launch CRFS as it transitioned from the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Agriculture. From 1990-2011 he was associate director and program leader for marketing and food systems at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Rich’s work in local foods, food hubs, food system networks, economic impact of local foods, and food value chains has been publicized and cited widely across the U.S. The work has been featured in numerous articles and other media forms including Sierra Club Magazine, Washington Post, Des Moines Register, NPR, Reader’s Digest, the World Book Science Supplement, AARP, Reuters, and the Toronto Star. His recent writings and research include evolution of the local food movement, structural racism present in the U.S. food system, and building networks to address social, health and economic challenges in the food system.

He was the recipient of the Michigan State University Extension Diversity and Multiculturalism Award in 2018, and the Practical Farmers of Iowa Sustainable Achievement Award in 2003. In 2020 and 2021 he served as one of 10 mentors – and the only one from higher education - for the national Food Systems Leadership Program coordinated by the Wallace Center – a national food system non-profit. Pirog has been the corresponding author for the first nine editions of the CRFS publication: “An Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism in the US Food System.” Born and raised in Clifton, New Jersey, Rich’s father and grandfather were small-scale dairy farmers.