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Week 3 Challenge – Exploring Local Food

July 23, 2012

What is local food?

We read about it. Hear people are wanting local food. What is local? Wikipedia says “Local food or the local food movement is a “collaborative effort to build more locally based, self-reliant food economies – one in which sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption is integrated to enhance the economic, environmental and social health of a particular place.””

There’s the skits such as this one from Portlandia.

What does it really mean to go local? Are you ready for the commitment of being local beyond just a definition or a fad? Take a look this week at how much (or how little) what you eat is local.

What is local? There is no real definition, although most people see local as within 100 miles. With today’s modern transportation, what can be brought from a day’s drive is vastly different from 100 years ago. In 2008 Congress passed H.R.2419, which amended the “Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act”. In the amendment “locally” and “regionally” are grouped together and are defined as

‘‘(I) the locality or region in which the final product is marketed, so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product; or ‘‘(II) the State in which the product is produced.

Bill Text – 110th Congress (2007-2008) – THOMAS (Library of Congress

These two perceptions can be vastly different! Less than 400 miles for us in northwest Alabama may be southern Indiana! The state that it’s produced may or may not fit your thought of local – here Mississippi is less than 45 minutes away but southern Alabama is several hours. Tennessee is an hour to the north, and four hours south we’d still be in Alabama but four hours north we’re in Kentucky! Some states – like Illinois, Indiana for example – are much longer to drive north to south than east to west. Tennessee, Kentucky for example, is the other way – not as long north to south but a good jaunt for east-west trips.

So start today deciding what is local for you. If we serve customers in Tennessee and north Alabama both now and after getting land, we’re within 400 miles but is that “local” to you? Is 6 hours’ drive within your ‘local’ frame? Consider too that for many in the cities, it may be 250 miles to the nearest beef cattle operation or dairy. Farming generally doesn’t mix well with urban populations in many ways.

In other areas once a half hour from the city it’s a much different world. Each area is different, meaning each person also has a different perspective!

What, to you, is local? Frame it in your mind considering all possibilities. This is an important parameter that makes a difference in the rest of the considerations! With all things considered, what is your local barrier? 100 miles? 200 miles? Is the 400 miles too far? Is transportation of a day enough, even if beyond 400 miles?

This isn’t about right or wrong or comparing to someone else’s answers. This is about your preferences. What you want for your family in your home. It’s that personal. It’s putting choice in those food choices. Maybe in the end after this week you’ll have a different view or perspective of what local is, maybe you’ll decide that local is or isn’t something that is a big deal to you. It’s all choices! It’s what we mean by *decide* don’t settle. It’s important to your family and it’s important to the farmers that grow your food choices.

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