By Elisabeth Veltman, The Tender Foodie
Why Local? Quick List.
Throughout the last couple of years, we've discussed the importance of locally grown foods, as well as those grown with organic practices. There are many reasons why "local" and "organically grown" are part of the passion of this blog. The short list is that if you buy from your local farmer, you know where your food comes from and whether or not the farms use lots of pesticides, or GMO seeds. You can also get your produce more freshly picked and that often means better taste and a higher nutrient content. Last on the short list, but not least, smaller farms encourage diversification of the soil.
Soil is the immune system of the farm, and just like the gut in our body, soil needs a variety of crops and a healthy spectrum of good bacteria. With local, you have the added opportunity to taste the amazing diversity that heirloom seeds can bring to your palate. Yum.
Read more about good bacteria: Probiotics, the "Good Guys" in our gut
2014 Locavore Index
On April 7, 2014, Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based local food advocacy group, released its third annual Locavore Index, a state-by-state ranking of their commitment to a local food culture. Through this index, the group hopes to encourage and strengthen the availability and quality of local foods. Indexes like these also inspire a little competition. I'm hoping that my latest home state of Michigan, currently at #26, will take a look at this and support those working to get us into the top ten.
The index itself is very interesting. It ranked the states based upon four sets of criteria, and on a per capita basis:
1. The number of farmers markets
2. The number of CSA's
3. The number of food hubs
4. The percentage of schools with a Farm-to-School program (yes, this exists!)
I was surpised to see North Dakota ranked as #7, Iowa as #10, and Idaho as #11 because these are all typcially big farm states who supply big food companies, not necessarily local markets.
Texas was dead last, with Nevada, Louisiana and Arkansas lingering along with it on the bottom.
I expected Colorado, New York and California to be in the top ten, but they ranked at #21, #23, and shockingly, #38, respectively. However, Rhode Island moved up from twenty sixth place in 2012, to eleventh place in 2013, and to #6 in 2014! Now THAT'S the way to respond to an index! Delaware made extraordinary progress as well, moving up from fourty-fifth place in 2012 to #18 this year.
So, see where your state ranks on this list, and remember that a great deal of change can happen in just one year if even a small group of people care about their health and the health of their farms and farmers.
Read the FULL INDEX HERE, and find their top ten reasons to buy local.