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Commentary: Support the local foods movement

Submitted photo- Recent graduates from the Urban Farm School with locally grown items in picture (from L to R) are Denise Terry, Rosa Johnson, Cassey Mapp-Ahmed, Songa Leopold Fultz and Eugenia Turner.

Commentary: Support the local foods movement
June 08
03:00 2017

By Lynne Mitchell

A new movement is upon us:  It’s the local foods movement and it is happening right here in our community!   

An increasing number of consumers want to know where their food is coming from when eating out or shopping at the market.  Lucky for us, our community is responding to this movement with more Farmers Markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) and stores and restaurants featuring locally grown, raised or produced products. 

North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food, and many of these foods travel long distances before making it to our dinner tables.  Although this variety is convenient, it may be time to explore new ways to shop and think about food.

First of all, there are many benefits to buying local food, the first being freshness and flavor.  Most locally grown foods are harvested within 24 hours of being purchased.  It doesn’t get any fresher unless you pick it yourself!  Gardening is the original local food and a great way to experience the movement.  You may want to start with a container garden, garden box or a few plants.  If you don’t have a green thumb, no worries!  Cooperative Extension has an abundance of free classes to teach you how to start and maintain your garden.  You can reach Forsyth County Cooperative Extension at 336-703-2850.

One of the big benefits of locally grown foods is that there is a shorter time between harvest and food being served on your table.  This reduces the chances of nutrient loss. Also, food doesn’t have to commute long distances or sit in trucks or distribution centers for long periods of time.   However, it is important to remember that all fruits and vegetables have beneficial vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients.  Eating a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables is important for optimal health.

When you buy local, you are supporting local farmers and growers and keeping money in our community to be reinvested with businesses and services locally.  Also, supporting local foods helps to maintain and preserve farmland, green space and the lovely rural character in our community.  If you still need convincing to join the movement, consider the environment, food safety and knowing more about farming practices that were used with the foods you are consuming.

If you are ready to be part of the local foods movement, consider joining the NC 10 percent Campaign!  The NC 10 percent Campaign is an effort to get people and businesses to pledge to spend 10 percent of their existing food budget on locally grown, raised, caught or produced foods.   

Going local is good for you and good for our community. 

For more information about the 10 percent Campaign and pledge, visit the NC 10 percent website at http://www.nc10percent.com/.

Lynne M. Mitchell MS, RD, LDN is Community Nutritionist with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health (www.forsyth.cc/publichealth). You can reach her at 336-703-3216 (direct line) or mitchelm@nullforsyth.cc.

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