But, just like when the pandemic hit, there is a great way round the potential shortages at the supermarket: local food producers. While there is a widespread misconception that anything local is also more expensive, you’d might be surprised about the value that local food delivers.
With farming being the root of the nation’s food supply, former President Barack Obama’s administration launched a federal Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP) program in 2014.
As we leave the EU and transition to a new agricultural policy, it is imperative that Government wakes up to the rising and broad-based consumer demand for local and sustainable food.
Enter #WeAreLocals, a platform to deliver a sense of place for local businesses to showcase their products and services to the local community and beyond. A virtual high street that, in essence, will help ensure that—when you are able to go more freely to your local high street or town centre in the future—there’s still somewhere to go.
To empower under-represented farmers in Western North Carolina, address local food insecurity, and reconnect the community to the land, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) is advocating for a rejuvenated food system in Appalachia.
More local food is appearing in grocery stores and restaurants and even schools, thanks to a growing number of “food hubs”; but it is a drop in the bucket still, compared to the food that is trucked in from afar. What do we need to turn this around? At least four things, each with practical and policy implications.
The solution to these problems involves more than a commitment to ecological models of food production: it also requires a commitment to local food economies.
It’s estimated that at least 50,000 people in California at least occasionally sell meals that they cook at home. Most of them have no idea that what they are doing is illegal. The Homemade Food Operations Act (AB 626), would change this, making it legal to sell certain meals made in a home kitchen in California.
One of the greatest benefits of local food is that it enables the public to form a new relationship with the people who grow and process their food. We can meet the producers and ask questions. What chemicals are they using? Do their animals look well cared for? Are they a good employer? Do they contribute to their community?
Located in the South on Main (SoMa) district of Arkansas’ capital city, The Root Café has served locally sourced breakfast, lunch, and dinner to an often-packed house since 2011. Whenever possible, the restaurant maximizes their cabinet contents by incorporating food scraps, and what would otherwise be considered food waste, into their dishes. Much of the rest goes to a local farmer who uses the scraps to feed the farm’s pigs.
Getting your produce onto the plate of the end consumer is one of the key challenges for local food producers, who often face obstacles in the form of unpredictable orders and time consuming packaging and deliveries. One of the strengths of the food scene in Bristol is the variety of different routes available to producers; from innovative direct to customer models to businesses with a firm commitment to sourcing locally, Bristol is a city that is working hard to get its local food to the customer.
Wendell Berry’s astute statement that “eating is an agricultural act,” uncontrovertibly connects food back to the land and back to the soil. As he reminds us elsewhere, the soil is where we begin in the most fundamental way: it is “…the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all… Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”