I have often argued the importance of redeveloping local food supply chains (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) If we think it is bad being dependent on foreign oil, think about being dependent on foreign food. Our dependence on foreign supplies of food is a critical weakness of our local economies, maybe the issue creating the most fragility.

A new study commissioned by Bill and Melinda Gates, “Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Marketplace,”  evidences the importance of local food economies for economic development. “Food is a catalytic place to begin.” As discussed in this Bloomburg Business week article,

The 190-page report, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, highlights the role local food businesses play in economic development—creating jobs and bringing money into a community. Michael Shuman, an economist at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and co-author of the report, sees economic development intertwined with developing local food systems.

What were some of the findings of the study of local food enterprises on their communities:

  • Greater income for farmers, workers, and suppliers.
  • Concerted efforts at workforce training
  • Scrupulous environmental conservation and stewardship
  • These local food enterprises “pump up their community economies by hiring locally, buying local inputs, and engaging in and contracting for local value-added production.”
  • and enhanced empowerment of minorities.