Fifty years ago, most people didn’t really think about where their food came from or how far it travelled to get to them. As far as they were concerned, it came from the local grocery store, not from the ground. Fortunately, that view has started to change. Many people now realize that food produced and consumed locally is much fresher, reduces transport-related climate change impacts, creates jobs, and keeps more dollars circulating in the local economy.
Not only do people want to eat healthier, they want to know who is actually producing the food that is nourishing. They have also shown a strong desire to participate in and support local food initiates. Fortunately, there are opportunities to do so at every level of the food system.
At the primary production level, local food entrepreneurs need funding to start new urban or rural farms and to buy farming equipment and low cost greenhouse structures to extend their growing season. Value-added food processors need funding to produce new artisan food products. There is also a need to fund small-scale distributors to bring those products to market and then to provide support to retail those foods through local food stores, food trucks, restaurants, farmer’s markets, and community supported agriculture programs. Finally, there is a need to support new initiatives to deal with food waste through food recovery initiatives, composting, and donations to food outreach organizations.
Funding is also needed for new multifaceted food enterprises, called food hubs, which integrated food production, processing, distribution, retailing, consumption and food recycling in a single enterprise. Because, EVERYONE is involved in the food industry, the opportunities for local residents to support and fund local food initiatives are virtually limitless.