Know Your Foodshed

Local and locavore (a person who prefers to eat locally grown/produced food) have become well-known terms, as more and more people are looking for locally grown food.

But, another term that is used just as often by food and farming organizations is foodshed, and it has been getting increased coverage in the media and online, even appearing in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal discussing the new San Francisco Foodshed Project.

But, how foodshed differs from “local” is often unclear to people because they are so similar. A foodshed is an area where food is grown and eaten, and in today’s global food system, that could be anywhere in the world. However, if the goal is to develop a more local food system, then it is defined as a more immediate area similar to a community’s retail trade area.

A foodshed is often compared to a watershed in that it’s a way for communities to use a renewable but scarce resource (such as water or food) more sustainably and in the way that watersheds show how “water flows into a community, a foodshed outlines how food does.”

Using a foodshed, an area is mapped out considering not just distance or miles, but other factors including land productivity, population density, climate and the natural environment. The foodshed’s size depends on these factors and the availability of year round foods and the variety of produce that is grown in an area.

As Roots of Change (ROC) notes, “like a watershed, a foodshed relates to a geographic area that provides the basis for food production. Like a watershed, a foodshed must be maintained. Like a watershed, a foodshed may not be the only source of the resource.”

Roots of Change is a collaboration of community, nonprofit, philanthropic, government, and business organizations that all collaborate in pursuit of a sustainable food system in California by 2030.

ROC believes that maximizing local food production has economic, ecological, and nutritional benefits, “that will becoming increasingly pronounced as natural resources become more valuable and food related illness more acute.”

The group helped to organize the Los Angeles Food Policy Task Force, who have just developed a report, “The Good Food for All Agenda.” The Task Force met last November with the goal of developing a Good Food policy agenda for Los Angeles, “food that is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable.” The Good Food for All Agenda consists of 55 specific action steps around six priority action areas and provides recommendations for how to advance the Agenda.

They are having an event, “Good Food For All: A Taste of the Los Angeles Foodshed” on October 6th to recognize the Task Force and to showcase the breadth of the Los Angeles Foodshed.

Similar groups and organizations have undertaken foodshed-mapping projects throughout the US and in the next couple of weeks we will look at some of these other projects and how they are progressing.


Annemarie W.
Annemarie L8 years ago

Interesting information!

Lika S.
Lika P8 years ago

Thanks. Interesting article. I wish there were better ways to support this sort of thing.

Sue H.
Sue H8 years ago

Very interesting article.
I always say thanks for bringing me
your fresh produce to my farmers market folks.

Dianne D.
Dianne D8 years ago

Hope to see more of this. I prefer to buy local, but its not all that easy to locate a farmers market and then to know that the food is really organic as the farmer is saying it is.

Mary A.
Mary A.8 years ago

More farmers have to has their own organize foodshed...

Erin  No news please
Erin R8 years ago

Thank you!

Monica Tervoort
Monica Tervoort8 years ago

The local farmer's market has so much to offer. Thanks for this enlightening article. And thanks to all the farmers and their labors.

Lynn C.
Past Member 8 years ago

Good comment about thanking your local farmers. It's a lot of work and it's nice for them to know how much they're appreciated. I be sure to do that next Saturday!

Mike Masley
Michael Masley8 years ago

Very much like a watershed in that it covers a slightly broader area than the term local may imply. Sometimes it allows for more variation in the diet.

Rosalind R.
Rosalind R8 years ago

Unfortunately, my local farmer's market will be closing in Oct. until next Spring. Boo Hoo! I have really enjoyed the produce they've grown/supplied. I thank them each week for growing the produce and tell them how much I appreciate their time, labor & efforts.

Do you all ever remember to Thank Your local farmers?
You'd be surprised at how grateful they are for your thanks!