By addressing key issues in food, farm, small business, and community-level and institutional policy, there is potential to identify strengths, changes needed, and gaps in the food system.
Good food policy and effective coordination between food system stakeholders will produce strong farms, open new or existing markets that are difficult to access, cultivate a resilient food economy, and preserve a healthy future for all rural Americans.
A food system is a large and complex structure that contains many smaller, overlapping systems. A lot of discussion has been held about how best to define “local” in “local food.” Similarly, as communities begin to think about their local foodsheds, or the physical geography required to feed a given population, the boundaries and definitions of those foodsheds may vary and overlap.
In our newest report, we took a look at the overall food system in our home state. In Nebraska, more than $4.4 billion is spent annually on food and 90 percent of that comes from outside of the state. The food system is reliant on other areas of the country, the strength of their food systems and local economies, and the availability of their natural resources to feed its population.
This publication is designed to provide background research that defines the current food system landscape of the state, presenting baseline information to the newly formed Nebraska Food Council. This council follows the model of food councils and coalitions across the country to bring a diverse array of actors involved in various parts of the food system together to create positive change.
In the text, we study examples from across the nation and discuss demographics, agricultural production, consumption and access, and food waste patterns in our own state. If you are reading this from another region, you may find similarities in your own food systems and we hope you’ll be inspired to take a look at the food landscape of your communities. Take a look at Biting Into Food Access.