Eat better this November with local foods
What: Buying local foods is proving to offer a variety of benefits for consumers and farmers alike. With the support of loyal, local buyers, farmers can switch to more environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural practices, while consumers enjoy fresh, in-season foods and put money in the local economy. Due to these benefits, a push to “buy local” is becoming a major movement. However, without a farm in their backyard, few city residents know just where their food comes from and how it is grown. Give all consumers an opportunity to learn more about local foods and establish strong ties with area farmers during National Farm-City Week, celebrated Nov. 18 to 24.
Background: National Farm-City Week has been declared by presidential proclamation each year since 1955. The event takes place the week leading up to and including Thanksgiving Day. Supported every year by The National Farm-City Council, the week focuses on finding ways to better connect rural food producers and city consumers. Agricultural groups use the week to educate communities on where their food comes from, how local food production impacts the economy, and the benefits of buying local foods.
Story Pitch: The week offers many opportunities for a variety of groups involved in food and farming. Organizations supporting the economic, environmental and health benefits of local farming can use the event to encourage educational farm trips and gather support for farmers markets. Local farmers can support the week by opening up their farms for visitors and educating consumers on local specialties. They can also discuss the challenges facing local farmers and share how keeping agriculture local benefits consumers. Health organizations have a great opportunity during the week to address how today’s agriculture is affecting consumers’ health, as well as how eating local foods can improve health. Programs that improve the quality and nutrition of school lunches by using locally sourced foods can also promote their cause during the week. Restaurants can also support the week with local offerings and educating diners about nearby farms.
Story Hook: One of the best ways to facilitate the beneficial farmer-consumer relationship is through local farmers markets, which allow farmers an opportunity to sell directly to locals and give consumers an opportunity to learn more about where their food comes from. There has been a major boom in farmers markets, with more than 1,000 new markets opening up across the country in the past year. There are more than 7,000 farmers markets in the U.S., but how accessible are they for the majority of Americans? Are urban dwellers well-served? How successful are markets in regions that experience harsh cold that doesn’t permit a year-round growing season? Keep the following questions in mind as you make your pitch:
- How can locals find out about farmers markets in their area?
- How “local” are local foods? What is the average distance from urban areas to the nearest farms?
- Along with better nutrition, what benefits do students at schools with local food programs reap?
- Can buying locally help consumers save money?
- What are some novel ways to buy foods locally, such as consumer-farmer co-ops, local foods programs for the disadvantaged, or local food delivery services?
Tips: A local farmer who is active in the movement toward local, sustainable foods is a great contact who can speak to the importance of buying locally and discuss area programs. Additionally, the head chef or owner of an area restaurant that emphasizes local foods can talk about why they are favored by food lovers.
National Farm-City Council
National Family Farm Coalition
–Researched, compiled & written by Kristina Elliott
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