Local First Blog

Thinking Outside the Shopping Cart

Jul 8, 2016 1:49:00 PM / by Local First

There are many reasons to shift your food dollars towards supporting your local farmers. Here, John Hendrickson, farmer at Stone Circle Farm and one of the founders of the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, has highlighted just a few of them.

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    In the conventional food system, food travels 1,500 or more miles on average from farm to table.

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    Only about 10 percent of the fossil fuel energy used in the world's food system is used for producing the food; the other 90 percent goes into packaging, transporting, and marketing. Locally produced food is more energy-efficient, with the majority of energy use going toward food production.

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    Only one in ten children ages 6 to 11 eats the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. Surveys of CSA members reveal that by becoming CSA members, households significantly increased their consumption of vegetables and fruit.

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    Since the turn of the 20th century, 97 percent of fruit and vegetable varieties have become unavailable commercially, replaced by only a few uniform varieties. CSA farms are extremely diverse, growing 30 to 50 different types of crops and hundreds of different varieties. Many CSA farms grow heirloom varieties known for their taste rather than their ability to withstand shipment across the country and globe.

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    Only one quarter of all Americans know their next-door neighbors. CSA farms re-create and build community by bringing people together around farms and food. CSA pickup sites promote interaction among neighbors and neighborhoods.

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    In a typical year, more than 10,000 new food items are introduced in grocery stores-mostly highly processed, packaged convenience foods. Many CSA farms introduce people to lesser-known crops such as sunchokes, fennel, and celeriac as well as unique varieties of common vegetables such as purple potatoes, yellow watermelon, and beauty heart radishes.

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    Conventional farmers receive less than 25 cents of your consumer food dollar on average. CSA farmers receive 100 percent of your consumer dollar, and this helps keep small family farms in business.

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    The average U.S. citizen spends less than 12 percent of his or her disposable income on food. A CSA membership is both a great value and a great way to support the local economy with your food dollars.

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Content compiled by John Hendrickson from From Asparagus to Zucchini

Local First

Written by Local First