This chapter addresses local food in two separate but related categories: (1) production of food in the region, and (2) people’s ability to access affordable, nutritious, fresh food. Issues of local food production and access are not mutually exclusive. For example, some particularly effective policies, such as urban agriculture projects in food deserts, can address both production and access. But often these two categories require different policy solutions, as demonstrated by the fact that people need access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food no matter where it is produced.
“Local foods” are products available for direct human consumption that are grown, processed, packaged, and distributed within our seven counties and adjacent regions. A local food system can include a variety of production options, from backyard and community gardens to commercial farms and combinations in between. “Sustainable” is defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future. Sustainability should be essential to all aspects of any local food system, from farming practices to food product distribution to waste disposal. Therefore, the term “sustainable local food” combines these two definitions.