The term “foodshed” was first introduced by permaculturist Arthur Gets (1991) and leverages the notion of a watershed. A foodshed is a metaphor for the geographical pattern food makes as it travels through marketing channels flowing into a specified location. A foodshed is a theoretical construct with several dimensions including the distance between, a farmer's field and your dinner plate; the amount of processing in between, and structure of the marketing channel through which it flows. Locavores have taken the concept of the foodshed into reality by striving to eat things produced within a 100 mile radius of their foodshed epicenter. This effort is described at www.locavores.com.
Local food is food that is grown within a reasonable distance from where it is eaten. Exactly how the “local” is defined varies with the consumers that buy it. The commonality amongst local food consumers is a commitment to purchase food that ensures social, economic, and environmental sustainability. Buying local food reduces the number of "food miles" between farm and plate, and helps to keep agricultural profits in the local economy. By decreasing the amount of fuel used to move food around, this proximity to food sources increases the environmental sustainability of the system.
Cooperatives have important roles in the local food shed. Agricultural Marketing Cooperatives help farmers to market and distribute their product while Food Cooperatives provide retailing outlets. KDC is helping to development and maintain many food cooperatives in the area, and are supporting the cooperatives in federated efforts; one example is the MidAtlantic Alliance of Cooperatives. There are economies of scale to be gained, especially with respect to sourcing and transporting local food from the farm into the stores and buying clubs.
From a purely urban perspective, KDC has been supporting the development of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance is a newly formed organization helping all types of cooperatives in the greater Philadelphia area. Leaders of established cooperatives have come together in an alliance to identify ways to work together and create greater efficiencies through cooperation.