From the Michigan Good Food network:
"Food system infrastructure covers everything needed in the supply chain of activity between the consumer and the producer, be that a farm, fishery or community garden. The supply chain involves such businesses and resources as seed, feed and compost suppliers; equipment repair and fabrication services; food processors; distributors; retail outlets; professional services such as logistics managers and waste handlers; surplus food rescue; and financial, workforce, civic, and land and energy resources. An inadequate food system infrastructure is like an inadequate transportation system of vehicles, roads and bridges - it is difficult to get where you want to go in food and farm markets without reliable food supply chain facilities and services."
The span between farm and fork is where a frenzy of innovation is occuring. After all, most of the work in rebuilding local food systems centers on increasing farm production to supply the local food market while building a stronger and more diverse consumer base. The span between farm and fork is perched on the fulcrum of what we can call "the New Middle."
The new Middle consists of aggregation, processing, and distribution, in a variety of possible forms and combinations, ranging from community-based non-profit efforts to savvy entrepreneurial initiatives. Much of the large, conventional food-processing infrasttructure is not scaled for smaller, local volumes, nor does it allow for the product segregation and market differentiation so important to local food production and marketing. The same is true for much of the distribution sector, as the majority of that sector is national and international ...
The diversity of business models for the New Middle can be attributed in part to entrepreneurial creativity, but the cracks in the concentration of our food supply tend to manifest themselves in different ways across the country. The ecological realities, food traditions, workforce potential, and available infrastructure of a region can often help create these small but widening fractures in the system. Even the lack of certain infrastructure can prove a boon to these models by minimizing the threat of large-scale competition. Local food entrepreneurs find these cracks and create marketing wedges that allow them to work their way into the local and regional food systems by virtue of capitalizing on products and systems that don't fit into the infrastructure or business model of large processors, distributors, and food service providers.