Food System Frameworks

The food system incorporates all the interactions, processes and infrastructure related to feeding a population. This includes key elements like:

  • Pre-production
  • Farming and/or wild harvest
  • Processing and storage
  • Distribution and marketing
  • Consumption and,
  • Waste management. 

A food system will face challenges throughout these processes, such as making sure food is nutritious and safe, managing food waste reduction, and impacting emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change or political issues that disrupt the global food supply chain. 

A food system approach (FSA) addresses these issues by taking a holistic approach (social, governmental, economic, etc.) that incorporates cross-sectional collaboration from a range of:

  • Sectors -- academia, environment, health, etc.
  • Stakeholders -- market, experts, government, citizens, priority groups/ groups of interest 
  • Levels -- local, national, and global 

This FSV focuses on the drivers, activities, actors, and outcomes within the food system and along the food supply chain. 

  • Drivers influencing production include climate change, population demographics, market and trade, etc.
  • Activities include functions that happen along the food supply chain to supply, produce, process, sell and consumer food. 
  • Actors include:
    • In pre-production -- researchers, the agricultural input industry, and genebanks. 
    • In production and food loss management -- farmers, fishermen, and workers. 
    • In the supply chain and food waste management  -- food processors, retailers, wholesalers, food companies, food service, and the media.
    • In consumption and food waste management -- households, institutions, and restaurants. 
  • Outcomes include:
    • Food security and nutrition -- food access, food availability, and food utilization.
    • Environmental outcomes -- implications on ecosystem services, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and waste. 
    • Socio-economic outcomes -- enterprise opportunity, generation of jobs, and health benefits.

A food system is commonly defined as the complex relationships related to production, processing, distribution, retail, preparation, consumption and disposal.

Food system thinking is a way of seeing the bigger picture.

A local food system does not hold a consensus definition in terms of the elements that define these systems. This work hopes to advance clarity in its definition. 

The results describe the local organic food system in Perth-Waterloo-Wellington. This report first discusses the perspectives and relationships of a unique group of consumers (subsequently referred to as “eaters”), followed by a description of the organic producers in the area. Finally, “the middle” of the system, including a diversity of institutions and arrangements helping to “move” local and organic goods from the feeders to the eaters is explored.

Historically, the Anishinaabe / Anishinaabeg / Anishinabek of the Lake Nipigon and Lake Superior regions used the sun, moons, planets and stars to guide community practices around time, harvesting, gathering, storing and preparing food and medicine. The most common is the use of the thirteen-moons to guide seasonal cycles and community practices.

This framework provides a snapshot of some of the cultural practices of the Anishinaabe / Anishinaabeg / Anishinabek in the past and present. Every community and region has their own way of recognizing the moon cycles and the time of year certain harvests take place. This harvesting map represents more of a broad example of the teachings that surround the lakes. These cycles remind us of our special relationship with the natural world and our commitment to teaching younger generations about "the good life".

In the spirit of reclamation, reconnection and shared learning, the project team in Thunder Bay worked closely with four local Elders and Knowledge Keepers:

  • Marcel Bananish from Long Lake #58 First Nation
  • Gene Nowegejick from Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek
  • Marlene Tsun from Allderville First Nation
  • Gerry Martin from Mattagami First Nation