From Field to Fork: Local Food and the Local Economy


August 1, 2012 - Kathryn Colasanti, Laura Goddeeris

CRFS' Kathryn Colasanti and Laura Goddeeris authored the August 2012 cover story for Michigan Township News, the publication of the Michigan Townships Association. This article discusses motivations and opportunities for Michigan communities to support local and regional food systems, highlighting examples from townships across the state and providing links to additional resources.

August is peak season for the many community gardens, farmers markets and other local food-themed activities around an agriculturally rich state like Michigan.

But local food can be about more than just a trend or a single season.

The term “food system” encompasses the many stakeholders, processes and linkages necessary to take food from its point of inception, on a Michigan farm for example, all the way to its eventual consumption (and disposal), whether that takes place at the dinner table, in a local restaurant or in a school cafeteria.

En route from the grower to the eater, foods typically pass through processing (such as washing, packaging, or freezing), distribution and retailing facilities.

A locally integrated food system can strengthen and expand stakeholder interactions, processes and linkages occurring closer to home. Local food systems—or regional systems, which may consider a larger geographic area—can present a significant opportunity for economic growth and development in many places, including townships across Michigan. Plus, when the environmental, economic and social consequences of how food is produced and sold are more immediate, people are more likely to pay attention and work to ensure that all the activity along the supply chain benefits the community as much as possible.


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