Everywhere we look, whether it is the television, a newspaper article, or billboard, we see more and more people exclaiming the importance of “eating local”. What is less clear is why it is important and what if anything Story County can do to facilitate this growing movement. The purpose of this report is review over nine months of ongoing research by County planning and zoning staff that attempts to answer these questions.
First, this report defines exactly what “eating local” means and the definition of food systems planning. Second, this report discusses the many ways citizens and decision-makers have found local food systems planning to be important, as well as the benefits it can bring to our community. Next, the report looks at what the State of Iowa and two counties in the Midwest are doing to facilitate the local food system.
Finally, this report recommends that the Board of Supervisors consider forming a local food systems steering committee comprised of local stakeholders, food systems experts and citizens to discuss issues and opportunities in the Story Country Region including:
– Public education of local food issues;
– Institutional purchasing of local foods;
– Regional collaboration on food system issues and policies;
– Recruiting and retaining more local food growers;
– Niche farming opportunities;
– Feasibility for a regional food processing facility;
– Allowing for small acreage farming; and
– Fostering more equitable access to healthy foods