Keep it Local, keep it Fresh: MSU's Center for Regional Food Systems' work for Good Food

Author: Rich Pirog

March 24, 2016

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The following was originally posted on the website of MLive on March 23, 2016.

Many Michiganders take for granted their ability to drive a short way to encounter some sort of supermarket filled with fresh meat, dairy, and produce. In several Great Lakes communities, this is not the case.''

The MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is working to engage the people of Michigan, the United States, and the world in applied research, education, and outreach to develop regionally integrated, sustainable food systems. On Greening of the Great Lakes to talk more about the center and it's work is its director, Richard Pirog.

"We have a vision for Michigan to have a thriving economy, equity, and sustainability for everyone, and we will do that through local and regional food," Pirog says. 

Food access problems, such as the ease of finding processed snack foods in comparison to the difficulties in finding fresh, nutritional items, are rampant across the country. In many rural communities and even in cities such as Flint, Michigan, finding stores that house needed nutritional items is challenging and at times, impossible.

"Everyone in Michigan should have access to good foods," Pirog says. "When we say 'good food,' we are talking about food that is healthy, affordable, fair, and environmentally sound."

One program at the CRFS through the Michigan Good Food Fund, helps to provide loans and other assistance for businesses across the food industry to get more of those healthy food items into these areas, while also creating local employment.

"We look at this as an economic development, a health and wellness, and an equity issue, especially in regards to racism in the food system."

"When we say 'good food,' we are talking about food that is healthy, affordable, fair, and environmentally sound."

Food banks, churches, community gardens, and farmers markets have all stepped up and play important roles in addressing these issues, some of which have contributed by taking part in programs like "Double Up Food Bucks."

Michigan's Good Food Charter seeks to unify these various food sustainability programs and work cohesively toward overarching objectives and goals for the state

Through statewide extensions of the CRFS and other public-private partnerships, individuals need only get online or pick up the phone to find information and programs that assist with nutrition, health, and food access.

"Public-private partnerships are critical in building food security in Michigan and providing all residents with healthy foods."

To hear Pirog's conversation with Kirk Heinze visit the orginal post on MLives website.