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1) What is a foodshed?
A foodshed is the area surrounding a city or town from which they can sustainably draw their food. It includes the city itself, which can provide some of its own food resources via backyard gardening, community gardens, and urban farms. The foodshed may also include more suburban or rural areas that transport food produced there to the urban core. Although Americans get their food from around the country – and even the world – the foodshed is a way of visualizing a space to which we should focus our efforts to build a sustainable agricultural system. It does little good to reform agricultural practices in other countries if they are still using petroleum to ship it here and our economy is supporting abusive practices right in our backyards. The word “foodshed” is derived from the idea of a “watershed.” To quote geographer John Wesley Powell
, a watershed is "that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community." A foodshed is similar, in that we are all bounded by the places and people from which we get our food. There's also a good definition from Cornell Cooperative Extension
2) How does Ecolocity define the D.C. Foodshed?
The D.C. Foodshed is the area from which that people living in Washington D.C. and surrounding suburbs can obtain local, sustainable food. Preferably, this food is also affordable to all.
3) How does Ecolocity define local?
For the purposes of the map, we define it as approximately 100 miles in every direction from the Emergence Community Arts Collective (733 Euclid St NW, Washington D.C.). We use this location because this is where we have our meetings. The idea of 100 miles comes in part from the book “The 100 Mile Diet” or “Plenty”
(depending on your copy). Although 100 miles is not a hard and fast rule, it is a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when it comes to the idea of “local eating.” Plus, 100 miles is usually the furthest that most farmers will bring their goods to farmers' markets. Others, like certain corporate natural grocers, may define local differently.
4) Why should I eat local?
Buying from local farmers supports the local economy, reduces the greenhouse gas and petroleum footprint of your food, and encourages more farmers to grow sustainably. 12 Reasons to Eat Local
and Explore with a Locavore
provide even more reasons why. Growing your own food in a community or backyard garden offers even more advantages, from learning to know your neighbors to spending quality time outside.
5) What kind of categories are included in the Foodshed Map?
The Foodshed Map includes these categories:
- Farmers’ markets
- Community gardens
- Local farms, especially those that have Community Supported Agriculture programs
- Grocery co-ops or locally-run food distributors
- Food justice and sustainability organizations
- Gardening businesses and resources
- Restaurants with a focus on sustainable and local food
We chose these categories because we wanted the map to include the entire foodshed, from production to distribution. Even if there is a great deal of local food being grown, people cannot buy and use it without adequate distribution networks such as farmers' markets and restaurants.
6) How do you determine what organizations or businesses make it onto the Foodshed Map?
For farms, to qualify for the Foodshed Map, the farm must be no larger than mid-sized, although small farms are somewhat preferred. As the USDA defines it
, small farms have day-to-day labor and management provided by the farmer and/or the farm family that owns the production or owns, or leases, the productive assets and have than $250,000 a year in gross receipts. Medium sized farms are similar, but can make up to $500,000 in gross receipts. Industrial or consolidated farms are not included, even if they are local. There is a focus on farms that provide Community Supported Agriculture programs because it is one way that consumers can directly support farmers year after year. Farms that also have pick-your-own options, where people can actively participate in the agricultural system are also emphasized. However, the map is not limited only to organic farms. Because of the limits of the organic certification system, many farmers are not organic but practice no-spray or Certified Natural practices. In general, small farms are much less likely to use excessive amounts of pesticides or herbicides than large farms.
For grocery stores, the store has to have a very strong focus on local food and the community, with a way for consumers to have their voices heard clearly. The co-op or buying club is the ideal model, as it allows all consumers to determine what is stocked. Some innovative business models, such as services that gather goods from many local farmers and deliver them to people's homes, are also included. We do not include any corporate or chain grocery stores.
For restaurants, the restaurant must have a proven long-term commitment to local and sustainable food. Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are especially included, as their ingredients inherently have a lower carbon and land footprint. Others are added on the discretion of the Foodmap manager.
All farmers' markets and community gardens are welcome, although farmers' markets that are producer-only are best.
7) What kind of information does the Foodshed Map list about each business or organization?
The Foodshed Map includes the name of the business, the type of business, a brief description, the location, phone number (if available), and email/website (if available). For relevant businesses, it also includes the hours open and the season open. For farmers' markets, it also generally says whether or not sellers accept food stamps.
8) How can I use the Foodshed Map to find resources in my area?
There are a number of ways to use the Foodshed Map to find resources in your area. When on the map, you can zoom in to your neighborhood, and see which entries are in your neighborhood. If you save the map to “My Places” (requires a Google account), you can enter in your address in the Search Bar, click on My Places, and then click on DC Foodshed Map. The locations near your address will then appear. Lastly, you can download the map as a KML file by clicking the small blue square on the information bar. You can then open this file in Google Earth or other mapping software to overlay it with other maps or manipulate the data.
9) How can I find a specific business or organization on the Foodshed Map?
The best way to find a specific business or organization on the Foodshed Map is to scroll through the entries, listed on the left-hand side of the map. They are listed alphabetically.
10) How can I use the data otherwise in the Foodshed Map?
You can download the data as a KML file by clicking the small blue square on the information bar. You can then open this file in Google Earth or other mapping software to overlay it with other maps or manipulate the data. Using Google Earth, you can also create new layers, such as polygons. Potentially, using this data, you could identify sustainable food deserts, or places that people lack access to sustainable food. We plan on doing this in the future, but haven't implemented it yet.
11) Can I use the map on my site?
Yes, you can embed the map on your site! Click on the little “chain” icon in the top right of the Google Maps screen. Copy the HTML that says “Paste HTML to embed in website” and paste it into your website. Please credit and link to Ecolocity D.C. if you embed it. In addition, please email/message the manager, Shannon Brescher Shea, so she can keep track of where the data is being used.
12) Why are certain organizations or businesses listed and others aren't?
It depends partly on whether or not the organization or business meets the criteria listed above. It may also be that no one has entered it on the map yet. Please use the Add an Entry form to add a business or organization to the map.
13) How can I find out the last time the map or an entry was updated?
The last time the map was updated is located on the map itself, in the introductory text on the top. It is in small gray letters, above the blue box. The last update for each entry is on the entry itself, as “Last Updated.” (The small gray font on each individual entry is actually inaccurate and generated by Google. It reflects when the entire map was updated.)
14) How can I add an entry to the Foodshed Map?
Please add an entry using the .
15) Why hasn't my entry shown up on the Foodshed Map yet?
Before an entry shows up, it must be reviewed for accuracy. As updating the actual map requires a number of steps, new entries are generally updated in batches. The manager tries to update the map about once a week. If it has been more than a week and the map is not updated, please message the manager, Shannon Brescher Shea.
16) How can I report a change to an entry on the Foodshed Map?
Please report a change to or a mistake on the Foodshed Map using the Edits to the DC Foodmap Form
. You can also message Shannon Brescher Shea on Ecolocity.
17) Some of the data looks weird. Why is that happening?
The Foodshed Map is a work in progress, and is maintained completely by volunteers (mainly, the manager). It may be that she is in the process of changing something and it just hasn't been saved completely. It may also be an error with the way Google handles data that hasn't been fixed yet. Lastly, data that looks “messy” (information in the wrong area, for example) may need to be cleaned up but just hasn't been yet.