Different Horizons: Food Miles and First Nations in the Minnesota North Country

By Mark Lawrence.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Located in Minnesota’s “North Country”, the Headwaters Food Sovereignty Council is a 12-county collaboration of the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Harmony Food Cooperative, area farmers, Anishinaabe tribal representatives from three Native American reservations, and technical experts associated with two state universities. Home also to a significant proportion of the Scandinavian-American community and cross-border ties with Canada given its northern location, the region is noted not only for its cultural diversity but also for considerable poverty. Paradoxically, while Minnesota leads the country in output of major agricultural products, most of this is destined for sale outside the state, raising serious questions about the differential impacts of food imports on the economic, nutritional, and medical well-being of North Country populations. This report is an initial assessment of the lack of food-systems planning for the needs of native peoples and remote populations in general, while focusing especially on the distribution of organic food producers, major retail food outlets, and other elements necessary for a “food miles” analysis of the region in particular.

Keywords: Food System, Minnesota, Anishinaabe, Planning

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp.131-154. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.407MB).

Prof. Mark Lawrence

Associate Professor of Geography, Department of Geography and Political Science, Bemidji State University, Bemidji, Minnesota, USA

Mark Lawrence (Ph.D. Geography, University of Iowa 1997) has assisted the community planning efforts of political scientists, anthropologists, economists, sociologists, native rights organisations, and environmental scientists and attorneys. Such efforts have included affiliation with the Indigenous Environmental Network, the University of Iowa Center for International and Comparative Studies, UI’s Center for International Rural and Environmental Health, the Stanley Foundation, the North Central Regional Center for Rural Development, the State of Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture. Overseas affiliations include Rebirth of the Land of Siberia (Irkutsk), the University of Ibadan (Nigeria), the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research, Global Service Corps (San Francisco), Zimbabwe Workcamps, Destiny International (Zambia), and in Kenya the Foundation Agency for Rural Development, the Masongaleni Community Organisation for Sustainable Development, and the Uongozi Centre for NGO Studies, Leadership and Management. Fieldwork has examined ethnographic issues of leadership capacity, indigenous environmental knowledge, the environmental consequences of changing relationships between rural women’s health and work patterns, land tenure issues in ecologically at-risk regions facing increased immigration and export cash cropping, and “participatory GIS”. Lawrence’s teaching emphasizes land use and regional planning, with a growing interest in urban and peri-urban biodiversity.


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