A foodshed is the region that produces the food for a particular population. The term is used to describe a region of food flows, from the area where it is produced, to the place where it is consumed, including: the land it grows on, the route it travels, the markets it passes through, and the tables it ends up on.
A foodshed is analogous to a watershed in that foodsheds outline the flow of food feeding a particular population, whereas watersheds outline the flow of water draining to a particular location.
“The term “foodshed” thus becomes a unifying and organizing metaphor for conceptual development that starts from a premise of the unity of place and people, of nature and society.”
It is can pertain to the area from which an individual or population receives a particular type of food, or the collective area from which an individual or population receives all of their food. The size of the foodshed can vary depending on the availability of year round foods and the variety of foods grown and processed.
The modern United States foodshed, as an example, spans the entire world as the foods available in the typical supermarket have travelled from all over the globe, often long distances from where they were produced.
The term foodshed has recently been resurrected, particularly in local food movements throughout the world, as a useful term to describe and promote more sustainable ways of producing , distributing, and consuming food.
Local foods movements are often interested in scaling-back foodsheds from the global scale to the regional or local scale. Those within local foods movements cite the benefits to smaller foodsheds, including (but not limited to): fresher foods, stimulating the local economy, establishing a rapport directly with those who produce their food, reduction in resources (e.g. packaging, fuel) since transport of food is shorter and more direct to consumers, and the subsequent pollution reductions that go along with shorter transport.