The distribution food system sector represents all of the movements a food product, production input, or person makes to get a food from the input stage to the consumption & recovery stage.
A values-based community food system is sustainable when all of the inputs are locally accessible and renewable. Up until the late 1950’s, Montana’s food system was substantially local, regional and sustainable, with Montana producing almost 70% of its own food. In fact, the state was a net exporter of processed food products, including fruits, vegetables, cheese and butter. In the last 70 years, global food system dynamics have favored an export market of bulk raw commodity foods, large and centralized processing, and global distribution. Today, only about 10% of Montana agricultural products feed Montanans.
From its inception, AERO’s role in the distribution sector has been to educate consumers about the benefits of values-based community food systems and to support the organizations that are working to rebuild food processing and distribution infrastructure in Montana. Montana is the 4th largest state with only 1 Million people. Forty-five of Montana’s fifty-six counties are Frontier, with less than seven people per square mile. Our loss of processing and aggregation facilities, and the reality of geographically- and economically -isolated rural communities, pose a huge challenge for food distribution that requires everyone’s participation to shift.
AERO’s focus on developing community-based food systems is grounded in an appreciation of the unique perspective of community and where our members live. By developing a place-based food system, communities can regain control of the food system sectors, decrease vulnerability to disruptions, decrease the food system’s carbon footprint, and increase access to healthful food for all community members, right where they live.
National Center for Appropriate Technology, Montana Farmers Union, and Community GATE Farm to Table Project created this video about ‘why it can be so hard to find locally-grown foods in an agricultural state like Montana’