Territorial Food Systems

Territorial food systems have existed for a long time and in many different places, yet have only just begun to gain recognition for their potential for developing more just and sustainable food systems. There are many experiences and projects to learn from across Europe, but there is much work to do to coordinate strategy and develop best practice on how to strengthen territorial food systems, including to fully harness the potential of sustainable/green public procurement.

The figure below shows the three ‘building blocks’ which COACH will help to develop and co-ordinate, in order to strengthen territorial food systems and collaborative agri-food chains:

Territorial Food System ‘Building Blocks’

Building Block 1: Short Food Supply Chains involve a limited number of economic operators, committed to co-operation, local economic development and close geographical and social relations between producers, processors and consumers.

Building Block 2: Sustainable Public Sector Food Procurement  whereby schools, government departments, hospitals and other public institutions commit to procuring sustainably produced local foods, typically along with other related educational and employment objectives.

Sustainable Public Sector Food Procurement (SPSFP) can provide profitable markets for farmers in the territory, contribute to food literacy (e.g. understanding the impact of food choices on health, the environment and community), help to reach broader policy goals (health, education, and environmental objectives) and support territorial employment.

Building Block 3: Civic Food Networks are widely held to be a linchpin of territorial food systems and pivotal in strengthening community self-organization.

Examples include formal and informal initiatives in the form of non-governmental organizations, networks, food policy councils, social movements, Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), and collaborations between groups of agricultural producers and researchers.