Mission: To create an engaging, accessible, and interactive website that improves agricultural and nutritional literacy as well as manifesting improved health, wealth, connection, and local pride for DuPage County residents.
Food is life.
In the perfect world, food is a means for Social, Economic, and Environmental Sustainability and Justice. Today, our food system is hurting people, local economies, and our sweet sweet planet. But we can change all of that. Don’t believe it? What if I told you, we’ve done it before. In the past, food brought people together; it created resilient local economies, and it had a light footprint on the land. We can get back to an America– a DuPage County– where food is a means for a good life. And today, we even have the added benefit of technology to further our understanding of sustainable agricultural practices.
We at Sustain DuPage believe that by investing in Agricultural and Nutritional Literacy for DuPage County, we can solve many of the problems that face our communities.
That’s why we’re creating the LIFE Atlas. This compiled inventory of local and regional food information will serve as a tool for food consumers, food producers, as well as entrepreneurs. We are raising money to hire a web developer to transform our content into a live website. Sustain DuPage has some great photos to put in… here’s another sneak peak.
This Atlas is important because it will strengthen our local economy, re-establish community around food, and ensure a healthy planet will be available for future generations.
We have three target audiences for the atlas.
1) Consumers. We want to inform DuPagers that local food is available for purchase, and encourage them to prioritize consuming local foods. In order to do this, we are inventorying: farmstands, community supported agriculture (CSAs), wineries, breweries, food co-ops, and farmers markets.
2) Producers. We also want to teach DuPagers how to grow/raise food, and encourage them to do so. In order to do this, we are inventorying infrastructure that provides the means to grow food: nurseries/greenhouses, horse farms, community gardens, school gardens, and seed-lending libraries.
3) Entrepreneurs. For DuPagers who are already producing food or are interested in creating value-added local foods through cottage industries (salsa, sauer kraut, mead, etc.), we wanted to provide an inventory of infrastructure that provides the means for food processing: rentable kitchens and meat-processing facilities.
The Atlas will include maps marking the location of these important amenities.
If you would like to receive updates on the Atlas, you can sign up for our newsletter here. If you want to ensure that your local amenity (garden, brewery, kitchen, etc.) was not overlooked in the making of the LIFE Atlas, please email us here. If you would like to help us pay for the web design of the LIFE Atlas, click here (donations are tax deductible). If you are a local business and would like to purchase advertising space in the Atlas, click here.
Food is medicine. When people are eating healthy food, they are more likely to also have healthy minds, bodies, and spirits. Supporting local food production in your purchasing decisions creates a strong sense of identity and pride in place. It also reduces carbon emissions associated with food transportation as well as strengthening the local economy. Money spent locally in a community committed to supporting local businesses creates a positive feedback loop of capital creation through the multiplier effect of microeconomics. The production of food is good exercise and serves as a respite from the busyness of modern life for our overstimulated minds and souls. Growing and cooking food with friends can also be a healthier way to celebrate each others company than the drug abuse and radical consumption present in many parties today. The inventorying of local food resources will reduce barriers to healthy eating for many struggling DuPage families.
Local food travels less miles to arrive at your plate, resulting in a lowered carbon footprint. Since climate change is largely considered to be the greatest threat facing life on this planet, it is important that we are making choices as consumers that reflect our values. By purchasing from local farms, consumers have the opportunity to put pressure on local farmers to make more pro-environment choices in their farming practice. Consumers who are informed about common agricultural practices are more likely to purchase foods coming from farms with greater pro-environment practices. When a consumer gets in touch with their food system, they begin to internalize the costs of their sustenance. This awareness is a value that leads to less food waste and a greater appreciation for Earth’s life support systems which allow for us to survive here.
The Atlas will provide a great resource for local food eco-preneurs in the form of content marketing, consumer trends, and sustainable business tips. The Atlas will list restaurants that have taken the Sustain DuPage Pledge to purchase as much local food as possible, providing invaluable exposure for small businesses owners who are making an effort to become more sustainable. The best value the LIFE Atlas provides to the local economy is confidence. By strengthening DuPage County’s local foods culture, the LIFE Atlas will provide a trend of consumer support which allows for small business owners to expand their operations and take loans with the confidence that their expansion will be sustainable into the longterm.