Food Systems: Regional and Industrial Food

RegionalFoodLlanoEstacadoWe’re all about making it easier for Llano Estacado dwellers to experience our local food system. That’s why Local Llano exists. We’ve talked a lot about specific ways you can experience our foodshed (CSA, Farmers Market, Gardening), but we haven’t really discussed the big picture.

What is a Food System and Why Does it Matter?

Food systems can be categorized in two major ways. The first category of food system is what’s known as the global food system, or the industrial food system. This is an important system. It drives our local economies by feeding and clothing the world. It provides unmatched efficiency as it relates to staple food items. The second type of food system is the regional variety. This is also an important, yet under-utilized, means of food production. Where the global system excels at providing efficient and durable foodstuffs, we’ll be honest, it could stand to be more comprehensively healthful for the human body. Likewise, the local food movement, while exceedingly healthy, can’t feed or clothe or even drive an economy like the industrial food system can. But this isn’t a matter of either or. Big ag and local ag can and should work together, and they often do.

Why Local Food Systems are Important to the Llano Estacado Region

IndustrialFoodIsGoodThe reason industrial ag is good for the our area is obvious: our entire way of life is built on it. But the reasons our local food system is good are less obvious. While our CSA blogs do hint at a few benefits for the region, it can’t be overstated that local food is sustainable. It doesn’t have to travel far; it doesn’t have to grow in regions unsuited toward its nutritional needs; it doesn’t have to rely on the demands of people thousands of miles away, and its product doesn’t drive an entity that’s beyond local control. Regional foodsheds feed their region with fruits and vegetables that grow well naturally in the area’s climate and soil. Local food producers serve their neighbors, towns, and communities directly. Most importantly, local food producers facilitate a robust, diverse economic environment because the livelihood of the region is not completely in the hands of a tumultuous commodities market or the desire for production of a single crop.

Regional Food Systems Don’t Hurt Industrial Food Systems

As we’ve said before, nothing can replace the industrial food system in our area. That’s not what we want, and that’s not what we think is beneficial. But we’ve also said that local foodsheds are under-utilized across the Great Plains. There’s more room for diverse eating of real foods, and regional food production is the most important part of that equation. While we’ll always have a need for industrial agriculture’s cotton, wheat, corn and more, those aren’t complete nutritional resources. As far as food nutrients go, they only represent the smallest portion of what a body needs for health and vitality. As more and more people are realizing the benefit of healthy eating and the necessity for a wider range of plants in the diet, demand for diverse regional food has grown. Processed foods are beginning to lose their allure as quick and convenient options in light of their contribution to disease and disorders such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and stroke. Demand for healthy, wholesome, sustainable, and real foods is climbing. There’s room for two vibrant food systems in the Llano Estacado region.

How To Eat More Local & Regional Foodshed Items

In a region with a younger, fragmented foodshed, like ours, it can be difficult to know about all the regional options we have. That’s what Local Llano is all about: getting the info out there. We can do that better with more friends and followers. Tell your friends about us; share our posts; shop with our featured farmers. The more people know about us, the easier it will be to eat more real, local foods.

Eating local pays big dividends. Not only in the nutritional health sense, but also in the regional health sense. It fragments the area’s resource allocation focus with more benefits to community members. Neighbors prosper directly from their home’s earth when regional foodshed’s are utilized. It strengthens communities. That’s really what a vibrant Llano Estacado region is about: strong communities.

Is there a local food scene we’re missing out on? Let us know about it in the comments below


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