Many of us that frequent our local food co-ops and local farmer’s markets are aware of our troubled industrial food system that exists today. What can we do as an individual, and how can we educate our family and friends that Being Local is the way to go? I’ve given a few ideas and ways to think about being local that may help others embrace the local movement. Eating fresh local plants and animals goes beyond optimal human nutrition! Eating local foods CAN involve local communities, giving back, good animal welfare, and biodiversity.
When we seek local food and sources, the financial returns on the local economy can be tremendous. Compiled from the Civic Economics studies in 2012 (www.amiba.net), independent farmers and ranchers produce over 48% recirculation revenue compared to the “chain retailers” – chains only contribute about 13-14% recirculation revenue. In addition to stimulating the local economies through job generation, locally grown food simply tastes better, is fresher, lasts longer, and has a higher nutrient value than the shipped produce.
Locally raised and harvested animals are subject to less stress, less or no chemicals and antibiotics, and have happier living conditions. Local ranches are more likely to raise animals that will thrive in heartier conditions (not your typical CAFO breeds) preserving older, heritage breeds.
This goes for plant diversity as well. Being local means supporting CSAs and farmers that strive to grow a wide variety of plants for their members instead of mono-crops. These local growers practice crop rotation, and often incorporate animals for a complete biological circle. Learning to eat what thrives around us and is in season is important, instead of following a recipe and buying ingredients that are not from around here.
I say it often, “know your local farmer and rancher.” There’s a great deal of comfort knowing this – a security of sorts. Knowing these folks goes far beyond the “organic” label found on most foods now. Supporting local can strengthen our local economies and strengthen our nation. I’m very proud of Chico and the example we are creating for other cities to follow. Spread the word on “local” and what you’re doing to be local.