What is a Local Food System?
There is increasing demand among consumers for food that is produced locally, rather than moved long distances from where it is grown. Although the definition of “local” varies, it sometimes refers to food that is produced within 100 miles of where it is consumed.
To increase local food availability, a system of production, processing, and distribution of local foodstuffs is required. One method to facilitate processing and distribution is a food hub. The USDA defines a food hub as a “centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.” Through food hubs, small producers gain wider access to markets, while consumers are more easily able to obtain local foods.
Mapping Local Food Systems in Illinois
To encourage the development of local food systems, VASDC has partnered with the University of Illinois Extension to design a local foods map. The local foods map shows the locations of food hubs, CSAs, farmers’ markets, on-farm sale sites, vineyards and wineries, and specialty stores across the state of Illinois.
To access the Local Foods Map for Illinois, click here.
VASDC has also developed a directory of CSAs in the state as found here
How can VASDC help?
At the present time, our focus is on the end point of distribution of local foods, namely the creation of small-town grocery markets. We are committed to assisting small towns in developing or maintaining access to fresh produce, meats, and other essentials through a financially viable community market. An important element in the design of the community markets is the utilization of local produce and meats wherever possible. Community markets are gradually developing new relationships with local growers allowing them to provide healthy local foods at a reasonable price. As these relationships develop, local farmers expand their production season through hoop houses and other structures.
In addition, VASDC is involved in supporting the development of food hubs in several communities that facilitate the aggregation of produce from several area farms. We provide technical assistance so that the new food hub is based on a solid business model.
Illinois local foods directories
Here are links of local food directories and local food organizations in the state of Illinois.
Statewide & national
- Farmer’s Market Online – Open Air Farmers Markets Directory
- Food MarketMaker
- Illinois Dept. of Agriculture – Farmers Markets list
- Illinois Farmers Market Pricing Reports
- USDA Local Food Directories
- USDA Local & Regional Food Market News
Regions within Illinois
- Central Illinois
- Northern Illinois
- Western Illinois
Illinois local foods agencies & organizations
- Good Food Business Accelerator
- Illinois Local Food, Farms & Jobs Council
- Illinois Stewardship Alliance
- University of Illinois Extension Local Food Systems & Small Farms program