Local food is becoming more and more of a hot topic, especially as concerns about food safety continues to rise due to the policies and practices of some large agri-business and international companies. In a recent article, a study was referenced that showed 30% of those surveyed said that having local food in their kitchen was important because of the perception of trusting the local food source. This number is in sharp contrast to where the local food movement was in 2000.
But local means different things to different people. It used to mean that you bought directly from the local producer or processor. Now there are numerous distribution models, like cooperative Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations that combine a host of local producers selling through one source or through a restaurant or retailer selling local food. Add to that scenario the regional aggregation that has also developed to help more smaller producers improve their ability to scale such that they can sell to schools and other large institutions and it is easy for the “local” waters to become rather murky.
Ultimately, a regional approach is only as reliable and trustworthy (a key benefit noted in the local food survey) as the transparency and ethics of the aggregator to source within a reasonably defined foodshed (100-200 miles) and note what percentage of the raw materials of products come from outside that foodshed. After all, just because you have a local Coca-Cola plant doesn’t mean that the Coca-Cola is local if the raw resources came from thousands of miles away.
Click here, to learn more about what you can do to help support local food in your community.