Why Food? Of the many challenges facing society, one issue crosses boundaries: food. Three times a day, everybody eats—at least that is our hope. There is an intricate web of relationships involved in bringing food from the farm to our plates. Building stronger food systems can improve the health, equity, environmental sustainability, and economic well-being of our community. Food unites people across socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, religious, and rural-urban divides. Food nourishes our bodies, minds, and souls. Improving how and what we eat and ensuring that everyone has access to the food they need will create strong community food systems.
Community food systems are networks that integrate food production, processing, distribution, consumption, and waste management. Sustainable community food systems enhance environmental, economic, and social health. Community participation is essential. Everyone is connected to the food system and everyone can play a role supporting stable family farms, whether it’s building a relationship with a farmer through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, working to improve access to and education about fresh local food, or frequenting a local farmers market. Sustainable food systems stimulate the local economy by creating demand for local food and food businesses, and ensuring that policies encourage changes that promote overall community health.
Naming the Ten Rivers--Siletz, Yaquina, Alsea, Luckiamute, Marys, Long Tom, Willamette, Calapooia, North and South Santiam, and the Yachats—draws the mind through what is, in essence, our local food shed. This Cascades-to-coast area offers the potential for a rich, varied, and healthful diet for all residents, if we focus on using our resources wisely.