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Cooperatives in Local Food Systems. Elisabeth Howard November 20, 2003 UW Center for Cooperatives Brown Bag Series. Cooperatives in Local Food Systems. 1. Local Food Systems 2. One Area of Research: Institutions 3. My Masters Thesis Topic. Local Food Systems.

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cooperatives in local food systems
Cooperatives in Local Food Systems

Elisabeth Howard

November 20, 2003

UW Center for Cooperatives Brown Bag Series

cooperatives in local food systems2
Cooperatives in Local Food Systems

1. Local Food Systems

2. One Area of Research: Institutions

3. My Masters Thesis Topic


The biophysical and socioeconomic processes and relationships involved in the production, processing, distribution, marketing, consumption and disposal of food.


“…We are embedded in a global food system structured around a market economy which is geared to the proliferation of commodities and the destruction of the local…”


“…We are faced with transnational agribusiness whose desire to extend and consolidate their global reach implies the homogenization of our food, our communities, and our landscapes…”


“…We live in a world in which we are ever more distant from each other and from the land, and so we are increasingly less responsible to each other and to the land…”


“…How can we come home again?”

(Kloppenberg, Stevenson, Hendrickson, 1996)


“In addition to yield potential, economic feasibility depends on the availability of outlets for the produce, the market price, and the cost of production.”

(Colette & Wall, 1978)



"We strive to work with ingredients that are cultivated in accordance with their natural cycles, and are grown in their native and adapted soils."

“Our inspiration is drawn from French and American cuisines, spotlighting locally grown, organic ingredients.”

One area of research:How do farmers sell to local institutions?(grocery stores, restaurants, food service)
between farm and institution
Between Farm and Institution

Essential Intermediate Functions

  • Cultivate relationships
  • Brokerage
  • Processing
  • Distribution

Who does this?1. Non-Profits2. For-Profits3. Government Agencies4. Cooperatives


Red Tomato

  • 1998, Canton, MA
  • Act as broker/distributor
  • Sell to grocery stores
  • Goal: To “reinvent local food systems”

Project Farm Fresh Start

1994, Hartford, CT

Farms sell to school district food service

Local wholesaler coordinates purchasing

dod fresh produce program north carolina kentucky new jersey others farm to school
DOD Fresh Produce Program(North Carolina, Kentucky, New Jersey, others)Farm-to-School
  • Coordination between state Departments of Agriculture and US Department of Defense
  • Use existing market expertise, quality assurance, and procurement and distribution systems

1997, one school district

Wash, chop, bag, weigh, deliver

2001, 15 school districts, 3 states


Postville, IA, 11 members

Sell to group shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, health care facilities, school district, college, restaurants

Online ordering

Wash, process, deliver


South-central WI, 23 farms

Sell to high-end restaurants in Madison, Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Chicago area

UW food service

Madison Metropolitan School District Food Service


Collaboration between UW, MMSD food service, local farmers, parents, teachers, community members

Pilot project in three Madison schools in fall of 2003

Local ingredients from Home Grown Wisconsin in new menu options

Special event meals

compare local produce marketing options
Compare Local Produce Marketing Options

Farmers Markets

On-Farm Markets


Institutions (restaurants, food service, grocery stores)

Based On:


Expected Returns

Price Risk

  • Personal interviews with farmers in south- central Wisconsin

- Two different samples

- Criteria


Qualitative questions (access, methods,objectives, obstacles, reasons)Quantitative questions (prices & costs) using five crops: carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, salad mix


Simulate Model of Typical Farm- Use price and cost information - Look at dynamic effects of changing certain variables (market access, risk aversion, etc.)

expected results
Expected Results

Access to local markets will be an issue

Farms use strategic mix of marketing options


What is “local”?


who will find this useful
Who will find this useful?
  • Farmers

- Help in sorting out decisions about production and marketing

  • Those who promote local food systems

- Are there inefficiencies or infrastructure needs that could be addressed