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About Local Food Systems

The term food system is used to denote all processes and infrastructure involved in growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, distributing, marketing, consuming, and disposing of food and food-related items. It also includes all the needed inputs and all generated outputs, e.g. water, technology, and food waste. 

Local food systems are networks of food production and consumption operating wholly within a limited geographic area. They reduce food transportation and increase trust and social connectedness between producers and consumers. The more direct sales structure allows for farmers and producers to make more on their produce while consumers pay similar prices as with traditional food sales. Meanwhile, reduced transportation distances mean less pollution and fossil fuel dependence. The City of Phoenix defines the geographic area of its ​local food system to be Maricopa County. ​

food desert map of Phoenix

About Food Deserts​     

​The term food desert refers to areas with low access to affordable and nutritious food. ​

Other related terms you may hear in connection with food deserts include the following:

Food swamps refer t​​o areas where there is a prevalence of fast food and other unhealthy options that are more convenient or affordable than healthy options.

Food sovereignty refers to the right of peoples to healthy and culturally-appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.

Food apartheid refers to the fact that the lack of availability of healthy food disproportionately affects communities of color, and whole communities are geographically and economically isolated from healthy food options.

MAP OF FOOD DESERTS IN PHOENIX: The blue boxes on the map to the right indicate food deserts in Phoenix, specifically, areas where residents must travel 1 or more miles to a grocery store or other supplier of fresh produce. One mile may not seem like a lot but food deserts mainly occur in low-income areas where not all residents have a vehicle, making transportation an added challenge.​

Good Food Film Series: How Farmers Survive a Pandemic

How has the pandemic affected Arizona's farmers and our local food system? In this film, we take a closer look at the losses, the gains, the support, and the innovative pivots that Arizona farmers and the community took to make sure households had access to fresh food. Learn about the Feed Phoenix Initiative, a collaborative project between Local First Arizona and the City of Phoenix. Feed Phoenix originally utilized CARES Act Dollars to bring nutritious, high-quality meals to COVID-impacted families across the City of Phoenix.​