A definition of Local Food Systems

A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...

A single week’s fruits and vegetables from community-supported agriculture share: peppers, okra, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, garlic, eggplant, squash. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In contrast, Local Food Systems (LFS) are networks of small local businesses, charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups driven by ‘bottom-up’ innovation at a local level. They include a diverse range of initiatives (such as box schemes, farmers’ markets, community growing and Community Supported Agriculture) intended to develop closer links between consumers and producers. Local Food Systems have their roots in society and their strength lies in the people who create and manage them; the goodwill of consumers and producers; and in the strong motivation that lies behind them. They can help reduce the use of fossil fuels and other resources (through less food miles and lower use of agricultural inputs) and improve biodiversity (through a variety of organic, agro-ecological, low-input or permaculture farming methods); increase food security; give low income groups access to good food and healthy diets; strengthen local communities and economies; and sustain small enterprises and improve the viability of small farms. Although it is difficult to quantify benefits, greater community engagement and better diets can also have positive impacts on mental health; reduce loneliness in the elderly; speed up recovery times in hospitals; and help to reduce offending and anti-social behaviour.   

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