Colorado State University Agriculture and Economics Team Help Assess Local Food System

A team of Colorado State University agricultural and resource economics researchers, Extension staff and graduate students helped gather data and create criteria for assessing the system of food production, storage and distribution in Larimer, Boulder and Weld counties. The team will present its findings to county advisory teams as part of the Northern Colorado Regional Food System Assessment Project.

The CSU Extension Local Foods Team, comprised of Professor Dawn Thilmany McFadden, research associate Martha Sullins, and graduate students Sarah Powell, Megan Phillips, Drew Moxon and Allison Gunter, collected data and guided advisory group discussions about the Northern Colorado food system. The team is creating individual food system assessments for each county, as well as coordinating discussions for region-wide food system issues.

Food system assessments include current uses, activities and trends in natural resources, food production, consumer trends, support of agricultural businesses, fresh produce availability, food security and nutrition.

“Efficient and effective food systems provide the appropriate linkages for agriculture and food businesses to operate with fewer barriers, give households access to safe, nutritious and quality foods, and protect the natural resources we need to continue producing good foods,” said Thilmany McFadden, agricultural and resource economics professor at CSU.

The CSU Foods Team will continue to present the data it collected, answer questions and receive feedback in meetings with each county’s project advisory team. Project advisory teams are comprised of suppliers, distributors, food safety groups and citizens involved in the food system.

“Our analysis of trends and the food system’s resources has framed lots of great discussions,” Thilmany McFadden said. “It has put us on the frontline of hearing directly about what opportunities and challenges producers, agribusinesses, nutritionists, health professionals and consumers want to know and hope to see in our region.”

The CSU Foods Team will attend public meetings this month to answer questions and collect feedback from the public.

Public meeting schedule is as follows:

Boulder County
Thursday, July 8, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Boulder County Parks and Open Space Building, 5201 St. Vrain Road, Longmont

Larimer County
Wednesday, July 14, from 6-9 p.m.
Loveland Police and Courts Building, 810 E.10th St., Loveland

Weld County
Thursday, July 15, from 6-8 p.m.
Island Grove Regional Park, 4-H Building, 501 N. 14th Ave., Greeley

Each project advisory team will review the strengths and weaknesses in its county’s food system and make recommendations for policy changes, new programs and new projects. The CSU Foods Team hopes to have a role in future projects to provide solutions to the weaknesses in the Northern Colorado food system.

Larimer County, Boulder County, Weld County, the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority and the CSU Foods Team were organized in January 2010. The assessment is expected to be finished by the end of 2010, but no official project end date has been announced.