What is a Food System?

A food system is the way food travels from farm to fork. It encompasses how and where food is produced, distributed, processed, distributed, and consumed, and how waste is managed. People are the center of every step of the food system. Central New York’s food system is shaped by politics, economics, cultures, and the natural environment. A thriving food system provides healthful food for all community members, creates economic opportunities for businesses, produces good job opportunities and sustains the environment.

Onondaga County Food System Background

Onondaga County is an area with great cultural diversity, natural resources and deep agricultural roots. The agriculturally rich area boasts a wide breath of food producers, distributors and markets. Located in the heart of New York State, Onondaga County is home to nearly half a million residents. The county seat in the post-industrial City of Syracuse is surrounded by 150,269 acres of prime agricultural land where farmers produce dairy, livestock and cabbage (footnote citation). Food is then processed, distributed and sold in local, national, and global markets. Although numerous agricultural products are currently marketed in Onondaga County, many residents face obstacles in accessing healthy foods. FoodPlanCNY is a grassroots project working to better understand the Central New York food system to strengthen coordination and collaboration and thus strengthen the economic, environmental, and health outcomes of the food system.