Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Bruce Dayton


A community food system is defined as a collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies – ones in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption are integrated to enhance the economic, environmental, and social health of a particular place. Since food is essential for both individual health and collective well-being; then community food systems represent a nexus for exploring local community development processes and outcomes (especially in known food deserts) because it aids in both food security and economic self-sufficiency.

However, there are parts of the country (including the Okanogan Highlands) that are vapid of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other healthful foods. These are places that are federally-recognized by USDA as known food deserts. These deserts are largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmer’s markets, whole food providers, and other healthy food options; and are usually found in more impoverished, low income and/or low access communities. In the US (alone), at least 1 out of every 8 Americans struggles with some form of food insecurity and because economic insecurity is known to drive food insecurity, it becomes very difficult to maneuver such a veracious cycle in a small town and/or rural community.

Yet, there are opportunities to improve both economic access and food security in these known food deserts by positively impacting their built, natural, social, and economic environments through local food and local ownership (i.e. entrepreneurship). These small businesses and other cooperative enterprises are essential for community subsistence, prosperity, and sustainability. Therefore, creating jobs, growing businesses, and supporting people’s livelihoods is what ultimately leads to greater resilience and better functioning communities. Here in the Okanogan Highlands; this means finding alternative ways to increase economic access, food security, and local development by empowering local residents, encouraging area entrepreneurs, diversifying the economy, enhancing the community (and its infrastructure), and conserving more of the local landscape (and its natural resources).


Agricultural and Resource Economics | Development Studies | Food Security


Image Location