“Territorial anchorage” refers to the establishment of a reliable local food system that caters to and develops the agricultural predisposition of a specific land. The idea is that by taking full advantage of the natural strengths of a locality, producers will intersect in a more intimate with consumers and everyone in between, thereby reconnecting the community while simultaneously fortifying its economy. Furthermore, ingredients used in mass catering operations such as restaurants, school cafeterias and hospitals will benefit from fresher, more natural products. In this way, promoting territorial anchorage puts a community back in touch with its unique heritage and its constituents, all while becoming more economically autonomous in regards to food sourcing.
The stakes are manifold. On the economic side, there will be more structural consolidation within the sectors of the industry, which will serve to align supply and demand. Environmentally, “short circuit” food products require less manipulation, transportation, and favor the adoption of agro-ecological techniques such as organic farming. Finally, many social benefits arise as a result of community teamwork; rounding up stakeholders and matching output (farmers) expectations with those of consumers (residents) creates a sense of joint identity and fosters pride for local production and specialties.
There are indeed legal limitations when going to bid for food prices and procurement with public funds. Strict rules set the framework for public purchase in order to guarantee equal and non-discriminatory access to suppliers. One of such rules in the EU forbids the request of a food product based solely on its origin. This often discourages communities from attempting to source locally with public funds. There are, however, advantages of local procurement that meet the interest of the general public and that are recognized as legitimate by the code of public markets. The freshness, seasonality and lack of need for transport of a food product all constitute legitimate criteria according to this code.
The Ministry of Agriculture has created a practical guide whose purpose is to advise French people on how to overcome legal procurement hurdles and to motivate communities to take on the local challenge. On December 2nd 2014, this guide was sent to all members of the French government, including mayors, presidents of régions, and general councils in order to give them the legal tools to serve as resources to help incite real change at the local level.