Senator Bernie Sanders checked out the fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Vermont during a stop this week at a Middlebury farmers market to help promote National Farmers Market Week. For common-sense economic and environmental reasons, Vermont is a leader in a growing movement favoring locally produced food.
Buying local and seasonal food for ourselves and our families will reinvest money in our communities and in local farms.
Vermont has 59 farms that sell directly to consumers, according to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. For its size, our state has an incredibly strong local food movement that is growing every day.
Not only do consumers offer farmers good prices for their produce, but it's cheaper for the shopper too. Buying food from a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm or at a farmers' market reduces transportation costs. It also benefits the environment because local food is often grown with fewer pesticides and its production does not include carbon-intensive transportation over long distances.
And, oh yeah, fresh food tastes better.
Although direct food sales from farms to consumers make up only 1.2 percent of total food expenditures by Vermonters, that statistic leads the nation. Vermont's per capita direct sales to consumers is more than five times the national average, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture figures by University of Vermont graduate student Dave Timmons.
There is room to grow. If Vermonters substituted local products for just 10 percent of the food that is currently imported to Vermont, 3,616 Vermont jobs would be created, Burlington economist Doug Hoffer has calculated.
August 5 through 11 was declared Farmers Market Week by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
To learn more about the local food movement, you may wish to read these articles or visit some of the Web sites:
Farmers Market Week
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
"Eat Here Now"
Ken Picard, Seven Days, July 12, 2006.
"Grants Help Educators Add Local Ag to the ABSc"
Kirk Kardashian, Seven Days, January 17, 2007.
"Eating Local Is Good For All Of Us"
Gaye Symington, Rutland Herald, July 26, 2007
"Local Food in Vermont: Mixed Messages"
Dave Timmons, Vermont Commons FREE VERMONT, Issue 12, April 2006*
U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2002 Census of Agriculture