In an effort to build local-based food economies and support local farmers, the local food movement has recently sprouted in cities throughout the country. The movement can best be described as the purchase of foods grown, processed and distributed within at most a 60-mile radius of your home. In addition to the health benefits, purchasing from farmers will support the local economy. Practicing this tradition will earn you the title of "locavore," someone who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.
Luke Lundemo, CEO of Rainbow Whole Food Co-operative Grocery in Jackson, said the local food movement is gaining ground nationally.
"Other food co-ops are seeing the same thing, an increased demand not just for organic, but local food," he says. "Four or five years ago people were more interested in organic food than local, but with the rise in environmental concern, we are seeing people who are more conscious of where their food is coming from."
Lundemo says buying food locally whenever possible reduces carbon emissions from transportation and promotes a healthier diet with fewer harmful chemicals in food.
How to Start A Local Food Movement:
The more you know, the more you can grow. Start by digging into your local library to research local and regional fruits and vegetation for planting times and climate conditions. Even testing the soil and learning the mineral content can provide better produce.
Start in your own back yard. Start with a small patch of ground in your back yard. Plan what vegetation you want to go where, and stake it off. If using raised beds, build a box-like framework with an open top and fill with soil. Root seedlings or plant seeds will make for an easier harvest. Don't forget to fertilize, preferably with compost.
Get your neighborhood involved. Ask neighbors if they would enjoy being involved in a community garden. Most urban areas benefit greatly from the presence of turning an empty, overgrown lot into a source of beauty and unity.
Those who can't plant, shop. If you cannot start your own garden, support local farmers at the various farmers' markets in the area. Also stop in local-conscious stores, like Rainbow Co-op or browse farmer's markets or the aisles in McDade's for Mississippi products.
Invest in farmers. Community Supported Agriculture program participants allow anyone to purchase a share of the farm and, in return, receive a percentage of the weekly yield of that farm. Some CSAs will even allow volunteers to work on the farms, bringing the experience to a more personal level. To find a local CSA farm, visit http://www.localharvest.org.