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What can a map of local food web be used for?

By mapping and documenting a food web we can increase people’s knowledge of where food comes from and how it is produced, distributed and sold.  This should build awareness amongst local people of the importance of their local food network. 
Thriving local food webs have many advantages for people, places and the countryside:

• New jobs and small businesses created
• More money spent and kept in the local economy
• Foods produced and sold locally, generating fewer food miles and less waste
• A viable living for farmers and growers managing the countryside
• Better access to fresh, healthy, affordable food
• Greater choice of where to shop and what to buy

The information gathered from mapping local food webs will be used to promote the benefits of sustainable local food production, local shopping, and fresh, affordable, high quality food.  This will encourage policies that secure local food networks.

Caroline Cranbrook   

Caroline Cranbrooke food mapping in Saxmundham

Local food campaigning at CPRE

In 1998, Caroline Cranbrook, a CPRE member and active volunteer, grew concerned about the impact of a proposed superstore on her local market town of Saxmundham in east Suffolk.  By mapping her local food web, Caroline was able to prove just how important a healthy local food network was to the town.  She showed how the lives of people and the success of rural businesses could be damaged by a new supermarket development.  The planning application for the new store was turned down.  Caroline Cranbrook’s research has shown that since then the food web has thrived together with local businesses and jobs. 

Caroline’s research resulted in the launch of CPRE’s local food campaign.  CPRE has published several reports including: Food Webs, Sustainable Local Foods, Mapping Local Food Webs and The Real Choice: how local foods can survive the supermarket onslaught.

The mapping local food webs project will develop this research on a national scale. It will provide better evidence of the threats to local food networks, of the opportunities they offer and will inform local, regional and national policy and decision making.

How does the Mapping Local Food Webs project help the Making Local Food Work programme?

Other Making Local Food Work projects will work to increase the supply of local food.  By increasing interest, understanding and ultimately demand for local food this project should encourage people to support their local food network and secure the long term viability of local businesses and the management of the countryside.  

What will this project do?
• Create an action pack for volunteers to explore their local food web
• Run workshops across England with a diverse range of people to debate local food issues
• Support volunteers to produce case study reports of food webs from each region
• Produce national reports drawing together findings from the regions to understand the benefits that local food networks bring to both urban and rural areas
• Promote our findings to local, regional and national media and raise awareness of the benefits of local food
• Present our research to policy makers at national seminars to encourage policies that support local food webs
• Carry out research early on and towards the end of the project to understand what changes have taken place and why