Local Food About Intro Section

What is a sustainable local food system?

A sustainable local food system is an economic network in which food production, processing, distribution, access, consumption, and resource/waste recovery (composting) are tied to a geographic region, such as northeastern Illinois. A local food system is part of a larger diverse farm economy, which includes commodity crops and agritourism (apple picking, pumpkin patches, etc.), and CMAP recognizes the robust role that agriculture has in our region.

A sustainable food system incorporates practices, policies, and operations that are beneficial to the three pillars of sustainability: the local, regional, and global economy; our land, water, and living resources; and our communities, including public health and our social connections to one another.

Local Food wheel interactive

Click on the wheel to learn more about the different components of a sustainable local food system.


Activities related to growing and harvesting food and other agricultural products. Production includes soil preparation, planting, weeding and pest control, irrigation, and harvesting. Production can also include the washing and preparing of produce for transport and sale.


Preparing and converting agricultural products for sale and consumption. This can include washing and packaging, as well as converting raw agricultural products into other types of consumables such as sauces, fruit preserves, soups, salsa, and juice.


Moving food from the farm to the point of sale, such as a farmstand, farmers' market, grocery store, on-line grocer warehouse, or other location. Distribution may also include the aggregation of food from different farms into a warehouse or cold storage prior to going to market.


The point at which people purchase their food at places like farmstands, markets, or restaurants.


Preparing and eating local food! Yum!

Resource/Waste Recovery

Also known as composting. This is the reclamation of unconsumed food or other agricultural waste that can be broken down and returned to the farm fields as a source of nutrients and fertilizer.