Pros of Sourcing Local Foods
Updated: May 31, 2020
Oregon is known for being home to and producing lots of amazing foods with a specialty in berries, hazelnuts, wild mushrooms, wild salmon and seasonal produce. There are over a dozen local schools that are a part of the farm to school program. Portland Public Schools (PPS) started a delightfully successful Harvest of the Month program in 2007, which incorporates seasonal and locally grown products into their school meals.
Community members have access to a wide range of locally grown and caught foods at many farmers markets throughout our area. Large and small food services have access to more products by using resources such as Portland Local Foods. So if you are looking for it, it’s out there.
Although Oregon is working to create more diversity and quantity in foods grown here, there is still enough of supply to get a few things on your menu. PPS has achieved the notable feat of making 30 percent of purchases from local farms and food producers. (Mother Nature Network)
Buying locally not only supports our farmers but also builds stronger communities, the food retains more nutrients with a shorter distribution time, uses less energy by reducing transportation costs, and maintains the integrity of the land and soil in Oregon through proper stewardship by farmers and diversity of products grown.
Chefs’ focus on buying from local farms is one of the
reasons that many small farms still exist in the United
States, even though most are located near cities and
chefs who are interested in local supplies. The quest
for authentic local flavors also has increased the
diversity of crops and livestock raised on small farms
and preserved heirloom seeds and breeds. (Menus of Change)
But in all fairness to the Food Security aspect of buying locally, it doesn’t always pencil out regarding the reduction of greenhouse gasses and positive effects on climate change. Menus of Change reports that even though reduced transportation costs can be a good thing, there is a limited amount of agricultural land, and it may be in the best interest of efficiency in feeding our booming population to support a farm that produces 10 times more food with minimal chemicals, than to support an organic farm that produces little.
So what’s the answer? Each facility will have to decide for themselves. Although it may not be feasible for you to have 30% of your menu locally sourced, you can still have a few local products and showcase them. This can start much-needed conversations, increase awareness of the pros and cons of locally grown products, bring attention to our agricultural practices, and help us decide if/how we need to change them to feed the projected world population of 9 billion in 2050.
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