Eating truly fresh food means buying it within 100 miles of where it came out of the ground. But your health isn’t the only reason to think about supporting your local farmer.
Just days ago, President Obama unveiled the American Jobs Act, a proposal that is “expected to cost between $300 billion and $400 billion and contain a mix of tax cuts and infrastructure projects,” writes The Hill’s Justin Sink.
Here at Insteading, we’ve got a much cheaper plan: skip the big chain grocery store and shop at a farmers’ market instead.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) recently released a report detailing the many benefits of supporting local food, not the least of which including the creation of jobs, the support of local economies, community development, and reduction of the environmental and public health costs of the food we eat.
To support its argument, members of the UCS fanned out across the country to visit farmers markets and talk to farmers, shoppers, and fellow local food advocates during the month of August.
The report, called Market Forces: Creating Jobs through Public Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems, identifies key policy changes that our government could and should make to help local food systems grow and thrive:
- Increase funding for programs that support local and regional food systems.
- Raise the level of research on the impacts of local and regional food systems.
- Restructure the safety net and ensure credit accessibility for local food system farmers.
- Foster local capacity to help implement local and regional food system plans.
- Support the realization of farmers market certification standards.
Of course, none of these policy changes will matter unless people actually make the switch from the grocery store to farmers’ markets and CSAs.
So when you’re talking to your friends, family, and neighbors about why they should get out of bed before 10 am on a Saturday, here are some compelling factoids to whip out:
- Modest public support for up to 500 farmers markets each year could create as many as 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.
- The growth of local and regional food systems not only directly benefits local economies; it also promotes healthier eating habits.
- People who shop at farmers markets tend to come home with more fruits and vegetables in their shopping bags.
- Expansion of local food systems could ultimately help reduce health care costs from obesity and other health problems linked to a diet dominated by processed foods.
For tips about actions you can take to support local and regional food systems, visit the UCS Action Center.
Image Credit: Flickr – Natalie Maynor