Foodsheds and Food Circles - corrected post
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Food Circles" message encountered 4/3 and 4/4.
Nancy Lee Bentley
The Food Circle
PO Box 3083
Champaign, IL 61826-3083
email@example.com (The Food Circle)
_Local Food Security:_
_Foodsheds and Food Circles_
The Foodshed and The Food Circle
More Local Food Security and Food Systems Development Info/Issues
References and Resources
_The Foodshed and The Food Circle_
The foodshed and the food circle are two concepts gaining recognition as
model s or conceptual frameworks for describing local food systems.
The foodshed concept, most often attributed to Arthur Getz's in his 1991
Urban Foodsheds article in Permaculture Activist, uses the analogy of a
watershed to describe 'the area that is defined by a structure of supply'. Getz
used the image of a foodshed to answer the question of "Where our food is
coming from and how it is getting to us" and to picture how the local and
regional food supply system works. Inherent in this concept, he empha-
sized, was 'the suggestion of a need to protect a source, as well as the need
to know and understand its specific geographic and ecological dimensions,
condition and stability in order for it to be safeguarded and enhanced.'
Today the Madison, Wisconsin area Foodshed Working Group along with an
active coalition of food coops, csa associations, farmer's markets, producer
coops, bakeries and other food processors, a natural food warehouse/
distributor, UWMadison and other active participants is the best example
of a local food system identifying with the foodshed concept.
The Food Circle is a dynamic, community-based and regionally-integrated
food systems concept/model/vision. In effect, it is a systems ecology. In
contrast to the current linear production-consumption system, The Food
Circle is a production-consumption-recycle model. A celebration of cycles,
this model mirrors all natural systems and is based on the fact that all stable,
biological and other systems function as closed cycles or circles, carefully
preserving energy, nutrients, resources and the integrity of the whole.
The graphic model is a wheel of concentric circles, illustrating how an
integrated food system flows from ag inputs and production through
consumption and waste recycling. Starting with the individual at the center
and moving outward through the family and community circles,this model
shows the food system and its parts work, integrating political, economic,
communication and other factors. For example, the CSA farmer in the
production sector is directly across the circle from the CSA consumer
members, showing the direct marketing relationship.
The goal of The Food Circle is to consciously develop networks of
sustainable, community- based and regionally-integrated food systems,
capable of providing the basic food needs of their members, providing
markets for local food and agricultural producers, providing cooperative
communications and trading exchanges as clearinghouses for goods, services
and information. Finally, the concept fosters an awareness of food
stewardship. The bottom line is energy, values and the preservation of life.
In contrast to the current linear food "chain" or food system resembling a
gas and energy guzzling snake with two funnels at each end, The Food
Circle depicts a fundamental closure, integration and healing of the food
system we desperately need. The Food Circle embraces the whole web,
including the food system connections, from a regional perspective.
The beauty of The Food Circle lies in its addressing a host of associated
issues, making it adaptable to a broad range of multidisciplinary interests as
an organizing vehicle, a teaching model, a community economic develop-
ment and planning model, even an entrepreneurial model.
This Food Circle is actually a blueprint model I have been developing and
nurturing for a number of years, first publicly used by myself and other
organizers of New York's first organic conference, Closing the Food Circle,
held at Ithaca in 1984. Since then the concept has grown slowly,
organically, through writing, presentations, university research, local
organizing projects, local and regional workshops, and now the budding of
plans for the first multidisciplinary foodsystem conference, The Food Circle
Network: Campaign for Sustainable Food Systems, targetted for 1996. The
Food Circle WWW page is also now under construction.
Several communities, including Kansas City/Columbia, Missouri and
Champaign-Urbana, Illinois are developing local food circles. The Kansas
City model incorporates a food policy council and membership in a statewide
foodsystems task force, including a developing network of producers,
consumers and neighborhood based local food circle projects have been
organized. Two yearly conferences have been held.
The Champaign-Urbana Food Circle, sprouting shoots in this Silicon Prairie
testbed community, is still an informal consortium of csa's, food coop,
vegetarian restaurant, farmer's market, farmer's market nutrition coupon
project, UIUC, organic/sustainable producers in a Sustainable Agriculture
Network and other activists, but also includes the local electronic
Prairienet/freenet as a component of its nervous system. Local currency
options, especially incorporating electronic information/creditsystems, are
being researched. A precedent-setting national "Information Agriculture"
conference, including Simulated Electronic Community utilizing The Food
Circle model, is scheduled in Champaign -Urbana for June 1995.
One key component of the local food circle operating model is
communication. As Food Systems Development Coordinator with U of I ,
this past year I have been working with the Sustainable Agriculture Network
and other groups to develop specialty/organic/ LOVA (locally- owned,
value-added) approaches for Illinois and Midwest producers. An electronic
marketing information service, including electronic marketing directory and
marketing network development, has been proposed. Meanwhile, we are
working with the local CCNet (business net) Ag committee to get at least 50
farmers up on Email before the summer, conceivably a lost cause now that
"the fields are dry enough to work".
The work takes time, growing organically, for the people must develop
conviction in the ecological basis for the model and then reorient their
working or consuming relationships. Barriers abound, from the centralized,
technocratic structure of agriculture to consumer obsession with speed and
convenience. Likewise, as emphasized in the June 1994 Defining
Sustainable Communities Conference, sponsored by the Tides Foundation,
"Sustainable communities require a different value system than the one
which predominates in America today". Yet, the change will come, the
conversion will happen. Inevitably, whether by choice or through economic
collapse, we will end up returning to a locally-based food system.
_More Local Food Security and Food Systems Development Issues_
Other approaches to local food security and food systems development have
been focused on formation of local/municipal food policy councils. Ken
Dahlberg, at the Dept. of Political Science, Western Michigan University,
has done extensive research, written several papers on this top-down
approach to local food systems development. He is currently coordinating
the Local Food Systems Project, funded by W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which
has been active in financial support and leadership in this area.
Charleston, SC; Kansas City, Mo; Knoxville, TN; Philadelphia, PA; and St.
Paul, MN, plus Onondaga County, (Syracuse) NY have or have had food
policy councils to coordinate local food systems in their municipalities, with
varying degrees of success. Some other cities with strong local food systems
are Hartford, CT, Ithaca, NY, and Toronto, Ontario. Food systems
developments in Los Angeles and East St. Louis, IL have been spearheaded
by Urban and Regional Planners, rather than by food advocates per se.
In their paper "Community Food Security: A Food Systems Approach
to the 1995 Farm Bill", Andy Fisher and Bob Gottlieb of UCLA's School of
Architecture and Urban Planning, brought out key issues to those activists
attending the first Community Food Security Coalition's organizational
meeting, August 25th, 1994:
"... the concept of food security is often associated with the phenomenon of
hunger. However, food security differs from hunger in certain crucial ways.
First, food security represents a community need rather than an individual's
plight, as with hunger. In this context, we define food security as 'all
persons obtaining a culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through
non-emergency (conventional) sources at all times.' Second, whereas
hunger measures an existing condition of depravation, food security is decid-
edly prevention-oriented, evaluating the existence of resources -- both
community and personal -- to provide an individual with adequate acceptable
A food security analysis extends .. into an examination of the food system.
Questions of equity and sustainability are vital to the development of food
security.... A food system offering security should have sustainability such
that the ecological system is protected and improved over time.. and equity,
meaning as a minimum, dependable access for all social groups".
Within the organizing framework of these models, local food systems/
community food security can provide a vehicle for coalition-building among
those interested in anti-hunger advocacy, sustainable agriculture, nutrition,
urban agriculture, local food policy and community development and other
We are approaching a time of integration, where growing numbers of food,
agriculture and other professionals are recognizing the need for an integrated
local/regional f ood systems approach to really address, analyze and solve
the current challenges in food and agriculture today. In this visually-oriented
world, such models are critical tools in this emerging discipline. They can
help increase understanding of our current food system, identify barriers and
constraints to sustainability and give us a vision and roadmap for realizing --
making real -- an optimum food system.
_Resources and References_
A partial listing of References and Resources on foodsheds, food circles,
community food security and local food systems issues and information.
An Introduction to The Food Circle: A Stewardship 'Technology'
for the New Paradigm, by Nancy Lee Bentley, EcoCity Journal,
Winter 1994, available from The Food Circle.
Community Food Security: A Food Systems Approach to the 1995 Farm
Bill, by Andy Fisher and Robert Gottlieb, UCLA , for The Community
Food Security Coalition.
Food for the Future: Conditions and Contradictions of Sustainability,
edited by Patricia Allen, 1993. New York, John Wiley.
Defining Sustainable Communities, Report from the Conference, June 2-4,
1994, $5.00 from Neighborhood Funders Group, 1001 South Marshall
Street, Suite 55, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27101; 910-724-9070.
Food Policy Councils: The Experience of Five Cities and One County,
by Kenneth Dahlberg, Paper presented to the Joint Meeting of the Agri-
culture, Food and Human Values Society and the Society for the Study of
Food and Society, Tucson, AZ, June 1994
Hendrix College Project. by Melissa Beck Yazman, available from
Gary Valen, Hendrix College, Conway, AR 72032.
Local Food Systems: Policies and Values Influencing their Potential,
by Kenneth Dahlberg, 1993. National Science Foundation supported
project, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI.
Planting the Future: Developing an Agriculture that Sustains Land
and Community, edited by Ann R. Bird, Gordan L. Bultena, and
John C. Gardner. 1995. available from Iowa State University Press,
2121 S. State Avenue, Ames, IA 50014-8300.
Regional Food Guidance: A Tool for a Sustainable Food System, by
Jennifer Wilkens, Presented at the joint meeting of the Association
for the Study of Food and Nutrition and the Agriculture, Food and
Human Values Society, Tucson, AZ, May 1994.
Sustainable Community Values Project Preliminary Report, Workshop
presentation by Verna Kragnes and others, Eating Closer to Home CSA
Conference, Dec. 1994. University of Wisconsin, River Falls.
The Community Food Security Empowerment Act, January 1995, available
from The Community Food Security Coalition c/o Hartford Food System.
Urban Foodsheds, by Arthur Getz. 1991, Permaculture Activist:
Vol VII, No.3.
The Community Food Security Coalition; Mark Winne, c/o the Hartford
Food System, 509 Wethersfield Ave. Hartford, CT 06114. 203-296-9325;
Andy Fisher, Robert Gottlieb, UCLA Department of Urban Planning,
405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095 310-825-1067; 310-206-5566 fax
Kate Fitzgerald, Nessa Richman, Sustainable Food Center, 1715 East
Sixth St., Suite 200, Austin, TX 78702; (512) 472-2073; (512) 472-2075
Kenneth Dahlberg, Local Food Systems Project;, Department of Political
Science, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, (616) 387-
5686; (616) 387-3999 fax
Anne deMeurisse, Minnesota Food Project, 2395 University Avenue, Saint
Paul, MN 55114. (612) 644-2038.
Kate Clancy, Department of Nutrition and Food Managerment, 034 Slocum
Hall, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York; 13244-1250; (315) 443-
Robert L. Wilson, consultant to City of Knoxville Food Policy Council,
(615)-588-7168. or Gail Harris, City of Knoxville, Food Policy Council, PO
Box 51650, Knoxville, TN 37950-1650. (615)-546-3500.
Sally Leong, Foodshed Working Group, 793A Russell Laboratories,
UW-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706 (608) 262-5309
Nancy Lee Bentley, The Food Circle, The Food Circle Network, PO Box
3083, Champaign, IL, 61826-3083, (217)-586-3846, firstname.lastname@example.org
for a packet of informational material including graphic linear and Food
Circle models and a reprint of the Eco-City Journal "An Introduction to The
Food Circle" article, send $6.95 to The Food Circle.
Ben Kjelsus, The Food Circle Project, 7121 Park Road, Kansas City, MO
64129. (816) 924-3003.
Verna Kragnes, Philadelphia Community Farm, Box 668, Osceola, WI
54020; (715) 294-3136.
Rod MacRae, Toronto Food Policy Council, 277 Victoria Street, Toronto,
Ontario Canada M5B 1W1 416-392-1107: 416-392-1357 fax
Nancy Lee Bentley
The Food Circle
The Food Circle Network
PO Box 3083
Champaign, IL, 61826-3083
For a packet of informational material including graphic linear and Food
Circle models and a reprint of the Eco-City Journal "An Introduction to The
Food Circle" article, send $7.95 payable to The Food Circle, address above.