PPJPC launches local food map

Food mapErica Sarro, a Colorado College senior and Y-Core Sustainability Intern for the PPJPC, is in the process of creating a map and interactive database of local food resources surrounding Colorado Springs.

The purpose of the map is to support efforts by the Local Economy Working Group and Green Cities Coalition to enhance regional food production and access.

“Local food” is more than a marketing buzzword. Our current global, industrial food system is predicated on the use of fossil fuel and controlled by a handful of huge corporations.

How many of us want to put our survival and the future of our families in the hands of Monsanto and Wal-Mart?

“We’re localizing our foodshed,” says Michael Brownlee of Boulder’s Local Food Shift Group, speaking recently at the Pikes Peak Environmental Forum.  “We are taking back our food supply, wresting control away from multinational food corporations have almost completely dominated the way we feed ourselves.”

Brownlee says there are four major steps to Local Food Shift. First, we need to “engage eaters” (a better word than “consumers”) to build demand for local food. This step is well under way, as trends show more demand for local food than capacity to provide it.

Increasing capacity – engaging producers – is, then step two. We must find ways to encourage existing producers to grow their capacity and bring new producers online.

A great local example of engaged producers is the Freedom Foods Co-op, with dozens of people making value-added products at Gotta Love It! Kitchen.

But there is more to a food system than farms, gardens and commercial kitchens. The food “supply chain” includes growers, producers, retailers, distributors, marketers and more.

Developing the supply chain, the third step, will require investment capital that will most likely come from our friends and neighbors, not banks and venture capitalists.

The last step is then expanding the new local foodshed system, once it is established.

To accomplish this great food-shift undertaking, we all will need to make shifts. Brownlee recommends the following actions:

• Learn everything we can about our food — where it comes from, who grew it, how it was grown, its nutrient properties, how it got to our table.

• Learn to grow at least some of our own food.

• Learn how to eat seasonally. If it’s not in season, you’ll be shipping in from halfway around the world.

• Learn how to preserve and store food.

• Learn how to waste less food.

• Be prepared to share what we have to eat.

• Reduce our consumption of meat. It is an energy-intensive product.

• Only eat seafood that is sustainably raised and caught.

• Demand the labeling of Genetically Modified food (GMOs).

• Develop new skills and knowledge — composting, vermiculture (worm ranching), permaculture, soil-building, seed-saving, cultivating, canning and preserving, cooking, nutrition planning, herbal medicine, etc.

• Learn how to preserve food for the winter months —learn to can, jam, pickle and freeze for the future!

The Local Food Map Project is an important step in assessing our foodshed and moving ahead with food shift.

The map and database will be embedded in the Green Cities Coalition Local Food Working Group web page.

The two interactive maps (one for local food within a 50-mile radius of Colorado Springs, one of a 50-100-mile radius) include information on farms, food producers, community gardens, co-ops, locally-sourced restaurants, farmers markets, education centers and anything else regarding .

For each location, there is a color-coded pin on the map (colors based on category – farms, community gardens, education centers, etc.) When you click on a pin, a bubble pops up with information about this resource, including location and contact information, products available, and information on where and how to purchase.

Beneath the map, there is a complete list of all the resources included in the map, alphabetized by category and name.

The map is now available at www.greencitiescoalition.net. Find the Local Food Working Group page on the lefthand navigation bar. You must then click the link below the map to “View Local Food COS in a full screen map” in order to see the complete list of resources beneath the map.

Sarro is creating the accompanying interactive database, which will replace the map-only version currently available. To submit new locations or corrections on existing ones, contact her at ersarro@gmail.com.

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