Michigan Good Food CharterDOWNLOAD FILE
July 26, 2022 - Author: Lindsey Scalera, Qiana Mickie, Yma Johnson, Lindsay Mensch, Rachel Kelly
The Michigan Good Food Charter is a guide for creating and sustaining good food systems rooted in Michigan communities.
Initially published in 2010, we have updated our vision, goals, strategies, and description of “good food systems.” These updates reflect feedback and recommendations gathered from a multi-year collaborative effort with partners, organizations, and individuals across Michigan.
The 2022 Charter outlines a shared vision for good food systems in Michigan with six goals, six strategies, and 22 action recommendations. The Charter calls for systemic change by supporting food systems that:
- ensure food is accessible to everyone,
- promote healthy communities,
- use fair and sustainable production methods, and
- support a diverse and equitable society.
A Quick Look at the 2022 Charter
A shared vision for Michigan’s Food Systems: Michigan has a thriving food economy distinguished by equity, health, and sustainability.
The Charter envisions good food systems that are:
- Accessible: Everyone can access and afford healthy, culturally relevant food where they live, work, learn, and play.
- Equitable: The food system promotes just and fair inclusion in a society where all people can participate, prosper, and have the power to make decisions.
- Fair: No one is exploited in the food production process, and people working in food systems have access to living wages, benefits, safe work environments, and pathways for career advancement.
- Healthy: The food system supports opportunities for everyone to be as healthy as possible, physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
- Diverse: The food system encourages diversity - of scale, products, means of access, production strategies, markets, ownership models, and foodways - as a strength that fosters community and system resilience as we face an unknown future.
What are the challenges?
To achieve this vision, we need systemic change. Thanks to advocacy, entrepreneurship, network support, training, and technical assistance over the past decade, there has been enormous growth in support for local and regional food systems in Michigan.
In spite of this progress, we still face many challenges that continue to hold us back. A common thread is the deeply-rooted systemic inequities, especially racism, woven throughout our history, society, and policies.
We must acknowledge these root causes and their ongoing impacts as we work to address them. Racist farm, food, and health policies have upheld division and inequity for generations. Persistent wealth disparities and health inequities connected to food systems are a result of long-term, purposeful exclusion like segregation and municipal redlining, repeated denial of government loans, and inequitable allocation of resources to Black, Indigenous, and other farmers/producers of color.
Dismantling unjust systems and achieving equity must be collaborative, intentional, and actionable to effect systemic change. We need a consistent commitment to addressing deeper, structural change by those who hold the most power.
What can we do?
While systemic inequities are difficult to overcome, the Michigan Good Food Charter can help us address complex food systems challenges through strategic, coordinated policy action. The Charter can serve as a guide and catalyst for food systems stakeholders to:
- identify gaps in existing policies and initiatives;
- determine where policy, resources, and funding can spur transformative change; and
- harness collective power to foster self-determination in communities most impacted by food systems challenges.
We have identified six strategies to help us achieve our goals:
- Cultivate thriving local/regional farm and food businesses: Targeted investment, policies, and technical assistance can ensure the long-term financial viability of Michigan farm and food businesses while fostering financial empowerment for those producers who have been marginalized.
- Prioritize local and regional food systems within a global economy: We can strengthen Michigan communities by growing the market for locally and regionally produced food, increasing transparency and communication in the food supply chain, encouraging values-based food purchasing strategies, and investing in local/regional food value chain infrastructure.
- Use the power of collaboration to dismantle racism and systemic inequity in food systems: How we work together is as important as what we work on. Because no organization or community member can make the necessary systemic changes alone, collaboration and partnership are crucial. To successfully dismantle systemic inequities in the food system, we must increase the diversity and representation of people participating in food systems decision-making at all levels.
- Establish fair compensation, safe working environments, and opportunities for career advancement in food systems: Food business owners, workers, and public and private agencies must work together to develop quality food systems jobs, design equitable career pathways, and ensure that food systems jobs protect the health of workers, communities, and the environment.
- Foster climate resilience through equitable land stewardship: We can invest in farmers and food producers as ecosystem stewards to protect rural and urban farmland, fisheries, and watersheds; reduce food waste; and keep plastic out of landfills. Additionally, land use policies and financial investment can improve access to land for current and future generations while advancing community food sovereignty.
- Support people to have real choices that lead to good food and health: We must expand food access, foster the vitality of local/regional farm and food businesses, and address deeply rooted, systemic issues that lead to inequitable health outcomes. We can foster dignity and choice in food systems by prioritizing approaches that connect food, health, and community food sovereignty.
What is “Collaboration Infrastructure?”
Everyone has a stake in seeing our shared vision become a reality. The term “collaboration infrastructure” is our attempt to communicate the importance of our networks and relationships. “Collaboration infrastructure” shows that how we work together is as important as what we work together on.
The Michigan Good Food Charter initiative fosters a culture of collaboration through cross-sector partnerships and networks composed of farm, food, health, environment, policy, finance, business, and education partners. These partnerships, forged around shared values for good food systems, can facilitate balanced decision making and advance political, economic, and environmental change.
Scalera, L.J., Mickie, Q., Johnson, Y., Mensch, L., & Kelly, R.E. (2022). 2022 Michigan Good Food Charter. Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. michiganfood.org