Building Community Food Webs

Building Community Food Webs

Ken Meter’s book, Building Community Food Webs. was released by Island Press on April 29. The book highlights the importance of community network-building as a core part of building community-based food systems, and shows that building mutual trust over decades is critical to success. Chapter 6 features Appalachian Center for Economic Network’s (ACEnet) persistent work, listening closely to what residents with limited wealth felt they needed, and designing tailor-made solutions that helped them accomplish their goals. As broader networks engaged more and more civic leaders in the Athens, OH and Nelsonville, OH area, this grew into lasting support for economic development that was focused on those who needed it the most.

The book also profiles 7 other community foods initiatives in Montana, Hawaii’i, Tucson, Northeast Indiana, Phoenix, Brighton CO, and Dakota County, Minnesota. These are carefully selected from Ken’s work in 144 regions in 41 states over the past two decades. Each one highlights efforts of special inspiration, or special resistance, to community-based foods efforts.

Building Community Food Webs also offers the first published analysis of the extractive nature of the US food system — with special focus on the fact that the commodity system has drained more than $4 trillion away from the US farm sector — a sector that is worth only $3 trillion in total assets today.

In the concluding chapters, the book also features Ken’s summary of the key issues that community foods initiatives need to get right in order to be most effective.

Further information about the book can be found at:

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Ken Meter is one of the most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., integrating market analysis, business development, systems thinking, and social concerns. Meter holds 50 years of experience in inner-city and rural community capacity building. His local economic analyses have promoted local food networks in 143 regions in 41 states, two provinces, and four tribal nations. He was commissioned to create statewide food system assessments for New Hampshire, Hawai’i, Alaska, Mississippi, South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, and Minnesota, and developed strategic regional food plans for 16 regional food systems. Meter consulted with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and Colorado State University as one of 14 co-authors of a toolkit for measuring economic impacts of local food development. He is co-editor of Sustainable Food System Assessment: Lessons from Global Practice (Routledge ,UK) in 2019. Meter’s work can be found at

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