Why Local Food

Building Healthier North Carolina Communities

Why Local Food? Because It Impacts All of Us in Many Ways

Local food systems can contribute to building vibrant communities and creating more opportunities across North Carolina

Remember those great-tasting tomatoes from your childhood? Farmers selling to local buyers can raise the varieties that thrive in local conditions and are known for their great taste–even if they don’t travel well. Local fishers and farmers are an important aspect of North Carolina’s heritage and culture.

Economic

A thriving local food economy can help protect farmland and natural resources, and maximize the environmental, social, and economic health of a community. Having a diversity of sizes and types of farms and businesses in a local food system builds a stronger economic base and thus a more resilient economy.

Supporting food producers in your area means more money ends up in their pockets.  The more money that is spent with local producers, the more that can be reinvested in your community’s businesses and services. Studies have shown that local food systems can generate greater revenues for producers and increased employment opportunities for the community.

Environmental

Local food systems preserve much-needed green spaces by reducing the loss of farmland and waterfront access that is so important to fishermen. Especially in this time of booming development, supporting local farmers and fishers creates a ripple effect that preserves so much more.

Health

Local food systems can contribute to the improved health of community members. Several studies show correlations between higher levels of local farm sales and lower levels of mortality, obesity, and diabetes in communities.

Many of the health benefits associated with local food have to do with access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer. Research has also shown that individuals who purchase local fresh fruits and vegetables, or grow it themselves, eat a greater variety of vegetables, consume more vegetables themselves, and report that their children eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Seafood is considered to be a low calorie food when compared to meat and poultry, so you can consume fewer calories to meet your daily protein needs. Seafood also contains all of the essential amino acids for human health, making it a complete protein source. Scientific evidence suggests omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of heart disease – a leading cause of death in most Western countries- and seafood is considered the best dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Community Connection

Much of the work in establishing local-food systems in North Carolina focuses on nutrition and health or community development – from community and school gardening to economic expansion projects. As a result, stakeholder support for local and community-based food systems is both broad and inclusive.

But local food isn’t always accessible and affordable for those who need it most. Together, we can work together to develop strategies to address food systems issues in our communities.

Local food builds community connections. Our council is here to support local food councils across the state as they identify and break down the barriers to local food production and distribution. We are here to connect the people determined to solve the problems their communities face with the resources they need to make informed decisions.

 

Footnotes

 

Enshayan, Kamyar 2008. Community Economic Impact Assessment for a Multi -County Local Food System in Northeast Iowa. Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Final Report M08 -05.

Henneberry, S.R., B. Whitacre, and H.N. Agustini. 2009. “An Evaluation of the Economic Impacts of Oklahoma Farmers Markets.” Journal of Food Distribution Research 40: 64 -78.

Lev, L., L. Brewer, and G. Stephenson. 2003. How Do Farmers Markets Affect Neighboring Businesses? Oregon Small Farms Technical Report No. 16, Small Farms Extension Program, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Myers, G.S. 2004. Howard County Farmers Market Economic Impact Study 2004. Report. Howard Co. (MD) Economic Development Authority, Agricultural Marketing Program.

Otto, D., and T. Varner. 2005. Consumers, Vendors, and the Economic Importance of Iowa Farmers Markets: An Economic Impact Survey Analysis. Iowa State University, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Sonntag, Vicki. 2008. Why Local Linkages Matter: Findings from the Local Food Economy Study. Seattle, WA: Sustainable Seattle.

7 Ahern, Melissa, Cheryl Brown, and Stephen Dukas. 2011. “A National Study of the Association between Food Environments and County -Level Health Outcomes.” The Journal of Rural Health 27(4): 367 -379.

Salois, Matthew. 2011. “Obesity and Diabetes, the Built Environment, and the Local Food Economy in the United States, 2007.” Economics and Human Biology.

“Seafood Health Facts: Making Smart Choices.” Overview of the U.S. Seafood Supply | Seafood Health Facts, www.seafoodhealthfacts.org/seafood-nutrition/patients-and-consumers/seafood-nutrition-overview.

 

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