Food System Infrastructure: Michigan Good Food Work Group Report Series

"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."

Table 1. The World of Food System Infrastructure
Infrastructure covers everything needed for agri-food entrepreneurs to move food from the farm to the plate or to move products, such as compost and timber, from the farm and woodlot to the buyer of those materials. Agri-food supply chains involve:
Inputs such as seed, feed, and harvesting services and equipment
Activities such as washing and bagging lettuce, bottling, drying and freezing food
Aggregation and Distribution
Things such as marketing cooperatives, storage facilities, brokerage services, logistics management and delivery trucks
All those who sell or serve food to consumers, from restaurants, grocery stores and hospitals, to schools, prisons, caterers and fast-food outlets
The effort that goes into promoting products such as billboards, coupons, advertising campaigns, packaging materials, branding and more
Four types of capital are involved: 1) Financial capital in the form of loans, investments and other financing; 2) natural capital of land, water and other ecological resources; 3) the human capital of creativity, labor and other talent, including education and training; and 4) social capital from churches, youth groups, chambers of commerce, etc.


Cantrell, C. and Lewis, R. (2010). Food System Infrastructure: Michigan Good Food Work Group Report No. 5 of 5. East Lansing, MI: C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University. Available from