DPD has posted Chicago: Eat Local, Live Healthy, a food policy document that outlines solid reasons why local food growing and processing are big economic opportunities for the city and region — and some broad (if vague) steps towards both increasing the size of the local food market and tapping into its potential.
(Interestingly, they acknowledge Environment, MOSE, Public Health, and Aging on the credits page as well.)
Page 4 has an interesting map, showing that both West Town and Logan Square have more than 45,000 residents per supermarket — shocking, since only 10,000 residents are needed to keep one afloat. Page 13 also confirms my suspicions: even though northern Illinois and eastern Iowa have some of the richest farmland known to mankind, high-value vegetable production in the Midwest is really focused on meeting demand from Madison and the Twin Cities (and on exporting asparagus from Michigan’s western shore). Yes, that’s right: more high-value produce is grown for the Madison market, population 0.5 million, than for the Chicago market, population 9 million.
Another interesting map (available from Chicago magazine but created at UIC UTC) shows that yes, thin is in: BMI by ZIP code (as reported to the DMV) is pretty well correlated with education. The north side is skinnier.
Among the implementation tools that the report cites is a “farm forager,” a market-maker who connects farmers to markets. The job is described over at GCM’s page:
For this purpose, GCM and MOSE are funding a “farm forager” to assess, find and support sustainable farmers, increasing the fresh locally-produced foods coming into the city… This innovative partnership presented the first annual 2006 Farmer Workshop in February for 175 attending farmers to help them be more successful in the Chicago marketplace… will build the infrastructure that’s needed to increase the diversity and amount of locally produced food coming into the city of Chicago and the region.
Farmers’ markets are a wonderful thing, but sometimes good old-fashioned division of labor can be even better. Re-creating the human infrastructure of the supply chain leading directly from farm to table will take time, effort, and “new” business models.