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November 29, 2011

Adventures in Local Food #12


One Year of Local Food

Hard to believe it’s already been a year of Adventures in Local Food! And what a busy year in food it’s been—from the struggles with confusing and seemingly contradictory food safety legislation that started it all off to the USDA deregulation of genetically-modified Round-Up Ready alfalfa, sugar beets and ethanol corn that gave it direction, to the critiques of the industrial food system protocol that gave it more context and to all the victories that reinforce why supporting local food is so important. It’s been a great year, and I’m grateful to have had the privilege to discuss something that not only matters to me personally, but is also becoming more relevant every day for all kinds of people across the globe.

First and foremost, locally-grown and locally-produced food helps us remember our agency, and in these tumultuous times what we need most is to recover the knowledge of how to do things for ourselves – especially if we want to transcend the one-stop shopping mentality that is dragging our local economies under and our communities with it. So thank you for taking this journey with me. But before we close out the year, I’ll leave you with some thoughts about sourcing and the future of local food as I see it.

From my vantage point, the future of local food production is incredibly bright. In the last four years I’ve seen an exponential increase of interest in and enthusiasm about local food practically everywhere I go and that enthusiasm is steadily increasing. It’s really a remarkable thing to have witnessed, given how in 2008 the media rarely acknowledged the local food movement, and now it’s so popular that Wal-Mart and McDonald’s are even trying to get on board with local sourcing (or at least marketing themselves as such). The benefits of local food have practically become a foregone conclusion for many people in many places. It’s amazing. I’ve watched how more and more people gaining knowledge about where their food comes has translated into getting more healthy food options in schools, making higher quality food available in food deserts, encouraging people to plant gardens, getting more locally-sourced food in restaurants and grocery stores and even just getting people excited about cooking again.

The general enthusiasm people seem to have about locally-sourced food and the desire to eat healthy, flavorful foods that it encourages has also caused people to care more about how the industrial food system impacts the environment. Overall, once people learn about the freshness and flavor of locally-grown, organic foods, they tend to be less forgiving about all the air, water and soil pollution that goes with conventionally-grown, mass-produced food. In other words, if you find out that you can buy great-tasting garlic and tomatoes at the farmer’s market, you have less desire to eat the chemical-laden garlic that came on a boat from China or the greenhouse-grown tomato that was artificially ripened on a truck from California. Those global supply chains start to seem more and more like an unnecessary waste of natural resources. And that is the power of learning about food sourcing; that knowledge can open the door for all sorts of positive changes beyond the realm of food itself.

So, why not learn a little more about food sourcing the next time you’re at a restaurant? Why not ask that vendor at the farmer’s market whether they grew their produce themselves or what they feed their animals? Don’t be scared. The answers you get could surprise you—in a good way. Plus, I truly believe that engaging in these dialogues helps us make informed decisions about our food choices while also giving valuable feedback to producers. After all, the knowledge is out there if we want to have it (and it’s meant to be shared!). That’s why I’ll be giving the gift of local food this holiday season.













About the Author

Stefanie Stauffer
Stefanie Stauffer
Stefanie is a local food crusader and another awesome member of the iSPY team.

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