Archive for November, 2008
North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the country, yet often the orange taters in the big supermarket near where I live come all of the way from California. And don’t get me started about how difficult it is to find a ripe local tomato or a firm N.C. apple in the produce section even at the height of the growing season. What’s up with that?
There are lots of reasons why even though North Carolina is the eighth largest agricultural state, and Chatham county is one of the few where small sustainable farms are on the rise, we still don’t find locally produced meats and vegetables in our supermarkets or our school cafeterias. It has to do with everything from federal food policies that subsidize mega commodity growers who produce feed for animals instead of food for people, to the lack of local distribution and processing centers to handle and market our produce close to where it’s grown.
And then there’s the challenge of who is left out of the sustainable food chain? Local farm experts addressed all of these issues today on WUNC FM public radio’s “State of Things.” Guests included Jennifer Curtis of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, who is working with farmers and whole food advocates across North Carolina to develop a statewide local food action plan for a truly local food system. Other guests included a farmland preservation advocate, an African American farmer and a Hispanic grocer. Click here to download the program from I-tunes.
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems at N.C. State University is reaching out to sustainable farmers, policymakers, educators, eateries, food cooperatives, and related projects across the state, asking: “What will it take to build a sustainable local food economy in North Carolina? ” Various organizations from the mountains to the coast are already promoting and implementing exciting initiatives to support and promote sustainable local agriculture. CEFS wants to harness their knowledge and energy to create a Statewide Action Plan for Building the Local Food Economy.
They say that if each North Carolinian spent 25 cents a day on local food (2.5 percent of the estimated $3600 per year that we spend on food consumption), it would mean $792 million for the state’s economy, money that circulates and stays here and has a multiplier effect.
CEFS and its partners are gathering information from across food system sectors, through regional meetings, targeted issues discussions, interviews and, ultimately, a statewide summit on March 2-3, 2009. The Statewide Action Plan would provide short- and long- term steps that policymakers, universities, government agencies, environmental organizations, businesses, funding agencies, social activitists, NGOs and citizens can take to make a sustainable local food economy a reality.
To join the listserve, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn about regional meetings and the statewide summit, see the website.