Imagine knowing exactly where the food on your table came from, a gorgeous spread of non-GMO fruits and vegetables, grass-fed poultry, beef, and pork, all available to you from local farmers. Well, you are in luck because the eat-local-food movement is gaining traction in Kansas. A study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2000 counted 2,836 farmers markets in the U.S., by 2013 that number had grown to 8,144 and continues to increase (journalstar.com 2014). The biggest problem for consumers is establishing a connection with local growers.
Food is a uniting factor that brings communities together but many consumers often feel that they don’t have easy access to locally grown produce and meats. The Kansas Rural Center (KRC), established to promote the long-term health of the land and its people through an ecologically sound and socially just food-farming system, encourages consumers to buy food from local farmers. Natalie Fullerton, project director of KRC, reports that if consumers bought $5 worth of food from farmers in-state each week it would help improve Kansas’ economy as well as the health of its residents (cjonline.com 2015). A 2010 U.S. Department of Agriculture study estimated that 90% of Kansans eat a “nutritionally imbalanced” diet, meaning that they do not eat enough fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based proteins, in fact, too many residents had diets high in refined carbohydrates, solid fats, and/or alcohol (cjonline.com 2015). But the wide gap between farmer and table needs to be reduced in order for everyone to reap the benefits.
Community supported farms (known as CSAs) have opened the door for consumers to make a connection between the food on their table and the producers that grew it. However, the future of local food rests on establishing more centralized “hubs” where farmers can accumulate the food they produce and have access to the reliable resources they need to distribute it throughout the state (journalstar.com 2014). Not only would this system provide delicious locally grown food with fewer chemicals but it would also encourage economic development, help balance the state budget with local revenue, and it would connect individuals with healthier foods, thereby helping to decrease obesity (cjonline.com 2015). But the main take-away is sustainability. Locally grown food that is apportioned within the state in which it is produced lessens the environmental impact of food production. And it is tastier.
ICT Food Circle challenges you to connect with local farmers by visiting our online Farmer Directory.
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