Mapping Potential Foodsheds Using Regionalized Consumer Expenditure Data for Southeastern Minnesota


  • Jake C. Galzki University of Minnesota
  • David J. Mulla University of Minnesota
  • Erin Meier University of Minnesota Extension



Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Foodshed, Local Food System Capacity, Food System Mapping, Minnesota


The theoretical concept of a foodshed is nearly a century old, while the tools used to model them—com­puter software coupled with spatial and statis­tical datasets—are ever-evolving. In a previous study (Galzki, Mulla, & Peters, 2014), foodshed maps have been created in Southeastern Minnesota that display the potential for local food system capacity in the region. Several assumptions were made based on data and software limitations that make the former results quite theoretical; this study attempts to move those results closer to reality by updating, where relevant. We utilized data pro­duced by a model devel­oped at the University of Minnesota to more effec­tively estimate regional food expendi­tures to create a representative diet in the region. We used current land-use data along with site-specific crop yields to analyze the poten­tial food capacity of the region. We used optimiza­tion software to allocate food supplies to 53 cities in an attempt to feed all residents in the region and minimize food transportation distances. Improve­ments in software capacities allowed us to incor­porate larger datasets, resulting in more detailed maps and statistics that better represent the poten­tial of local foods in the region. The optimization model indicated the region is capable of sustaining its population entirely on locally derived foods. Each resident can be fed on approximately one-third of a hectare (0.85 acre) of land in the region. The average distance a unit of food travels from farm to grocery store was found to be 15.6 km (9.7 miles). Results also show that 90% of the cultivated land remains in surplus after meeting the food demands of the region, minimizing the impacts on the local agroeconomic system. The surplus of pasture land is smaller, but over half the pasture land in the region is in surplus after food needs are met. We explore an alternative land-use scenario that removes environmentally sensitive cropland from cultivation to illustrate the impact conserva­tion efforts may have on a potential local food system. The updated results of this study bolster the evocative effect of mapping foodsheds and provide a more realistic illustration of how the region could sustain itself on locally derived foods.


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Author Biographies

Jake C. Galzki, University of Minnesota

Research Fellow, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota; 1991 Upper Buford Circle; St. Paul, Minnesota 55108

David J. Mulla, University of Minnesota

Professor, Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, University of Minnesota; St. Paul, Minnesota

Erin Meier, University of Minnesota Extension

Program Director for the University of Minnesota Extension’s Southeastern Regional Partnerships; Rochester, Minnesota



How to Cite

Galzki, J. C., Mulla, D. J., & Meier, E. (2017). Mapping Potential Foodsheds Using Regionalized Consumer Expenditure Data for Southeastern Minnesota. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 7(3), 181–196.