The development of food system plans and assessments by localities, regions and states has been a relatively recent phenomena in the United States (Pothukuchi and Kaufman, 1999). Despite the fact that prior to the proliferation of cheap modes of transportation and industrial farming and processing, all food systems were regionally based, constrained by the limits of the land, climate and local farmers with the growing awareness of climate change, the drawbacks of globalization, and the increased desire and sensitivity toward sourcing food more locally or regionally. A conceptualization of the “local” or “regional” food system has taken root in the imaginations of planners, environmental advocates, researchers, local and regional agriculturally based businesses, and governments sensitive to the health and economic benefits of resilient food systems.
EMCOG region undertook such a locally driven effort in 2012 under the funding from US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare a Regional Food Systems Assessment and Plan for the 14 county area. An advisory Committee was formed and with its supervision several aspects of regional food systems were analyzed, goals for the local food systems established, relationship to the state plan (MI Good Food Charter) was assessed and local deliverables were prepared. Through a series of reports, meetings, presentations, brochures and a Regional Food Summit held in Jan 2013 EMCOG region has established a great sense of awareness and drive for the encouragement and growth of its locally grown and processed food products. With further funding from USDA the second phase for 2014 was completed, which included an update of the EMCOG Local Food Guide, which has now been incorporated into the EMCOG website as a mapping application.