Have you joined the food movement?

Become a part of the food movement by seeking out opportunities to purchase local foods through markets, grocery stores and restaurants.

Food purchasing trends are showing that consumers are seeking out and purchasing foods, especially produce, that is grown in closer proximity to them. According to the Rabobank’s Food & Agriculture Research and Advisory group report titled “Local Foods: Shifting the Balance of Opportunity for Regional U.S. Produce,” consumer desire for a stronger connection to the farmers who grow their food is creating a demand shift in the U.S. produce industry.

Consumers are finding local buying opportunities at farmers’ markets and roadside stands. These opportunities are an important component to the success of many small fruit and vegetable farms. As the consumer you are investing your money into the local community through spending with the grower. This local community economic impact is just one of many benefits of eating local foods.

Supermarkets and grocery stores are also supporting local food by purchasing foods and featuring them through designated “locally grown” displays and shelf space. A display may contain information about the grower and product. These foods have also travelled fewer ‘food miles’ from the producer to the shelf.

Restaurants are seeking out regional and local growers and often feature specials that use produce that is in season. You may also see other agricultural products featured on menus such as local eggs, meats and honey. Patronizing restaurants that purchase from regional and local growers is another way to support the food movement.

The report also states that this local foods trend will continue to expand especially for fresh produce over the next five years as consumers continue to seek out sources to satisfy their desire for fresh produce.

What opportunities can you find to support the local food movement? Are there local farmers’ markets or growers nearby where you can shop? To find local growers in your area check out the Michigan Farmers Market Association database or the Michigan Farm Market & Agricultural Tourism Directory. Check with your local chamber of commerce, they may have a listing of farmers markets and local growers in the area.

Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) has educators working across Michigan who provide Community Food Systems educational programming and assistance. For more information, you can contact an educator by conducting a search with MSUE’s Find an Expert search tool and using the keywords, Community Food Systems.

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