This is a reply to Tom Akin on the foodshed concept query he passed
along from Fred Kirschenmann and augmented with his own questions. I
sent it out Friday p.m. but apparently it bounced, so am trying
again. We have work going on here at UW-Madison and the Center
for Integrated Agricultural Systems on this topic. I'm writing to
share a few highlights of that.
1. CIAS sponsors a monthly Regional Food Systems Seminar that has
brought diverse folks together to explore topics like the economic
impacts of changing diets to meet USDA food guidelines, the
feasibility and impact of regionally reliant food systems, various
alternative and value added marketing projects taking place in the
upper Midwest, and more. We are still in an exploratory mode
(meaning we not only have more questions than answers, we're still
formulating the questions), but some interesting perspectives have
emerged from this seminar. John Hendrickson is the coordinator of
this seminar. You can reach him via e-mail as
He is the keeper of much of the Center's information traffic on this
topic and can also refer you to UW-Madison researchers and contact
folks and Madison-area and Wisconsin/Upper Midwest collaborators on
this work. Steve Stevenson, CIAS assistant director, is also deeply
involved in foodshed activities. He is at:
2. A few suggestions on readings. Prof. Jack Kloppenburg (UW-Mad
Dept. of Rural Sociology) and John have authored a paper called
"Coming Into the Foodshed" which lays out a framework for foodshed
issues. John can give you more details; I don't know whether it's
available in other than draft form at this point, but John can tell
you, or you can dink Jack at
Jack has a number of graduate and undergraduate students involved in
foodshed research, as well, and has taught seminars on the topic.
3. Community Supported Agriculture, community gardening/urban
sustainable agriculture, farmer's markets, alternative
value-added/direct marketing, and development of seasonal/regional
restaurant menus are several of the areas that the Center has had a
strong interest in and/or supported research and other activities on.
I can offer further leads if you have specific questions.
4. Here are suggestions for readings that we've found useful in
thinking about regional and seasonal food systems issues. I'm
knocking this out quickly on a Friday evening, so it isn't perfectly
Kate Clancy. The role of sustainable agriculture in improving the
safety and quality of the food supply. /Am J of Alt Ag/ 1:1, 11-18
Kenneth Dahlberg. Regenerative food systems: broadening the scope
and agenda of sustainability. In Patricia Allen, ed., /Food for the
Future./ NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1993, pp. 75-102
Harriet Friedmann. After Midas' feast: alternative food regimes for
the future. In Patricia Allen, ed., /Food for the Future./ NY:
John Wiley & Sons, 1993, pp. 213-233.
Arthur Getz. Urban foodsheds. /Permaculture Activist/ VII:3:26-27,
Joan Dye Gussow and Kate Clancy. Dietary guidelines for
sustainability. /J. of Nutrition Education. 18:1-5, 1986
Marcia Herrin and Joan Dye Gussow. Designing a Sustainable Regional
Diet. /Journal of Nutritional Education/ 21: 270-275, 1989 (good
Interfaith Hunger Coalition. /Seeds of Change: Strategies for Food
Security for the Inner City./ Los Angeles: Interfaith Hunger
Brewster Kneen. Distancing: the logic of the food system; Going
shopping; and Industrial food. Chapters 3-5 in /From Land to
Mouth: Understanding the Food System./ Toronto: NC Press Ltd.
(Sorry I don't have the newer edition on hand to update this.)
David Orr. Prices and the life exchanged: costs of the US food
system. In /Understanding the True Cost of Food./ Washington, DC:
Institute for Alternative Ag, 1991, pp. 1-13.
Toronto Food Policy Council. /Developing a Food System which is Just
and Environmentally Sustainable./ Toronto: TFPC, 1993
There is much much much more...but this'll give you a start.
5. Prof. Sally Leong, UW-Madison Professor of Plant Pathology,
organized and continues to be a guiding spirit behind a foodshed
working group here in Madland. She is at:
This group engages researchers, food and hunger activists, people
with interests in sustainable ag., farmers, and many others in a
variety of foodshed-related issues.
Hope this gets you started. We're finding it an incredibly rich and
complex area of inquiry.