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Locally Grown Food

From where does most food purchased at the average supermarket come?
What are economic repercussions of relying on imported food or food not locally grown?
What are environmental repercussions of relying on imported food or food not locally grown?
How is the Meadville area supported its local growers?

Most produce in today's supermarkets travels an average of 1,500 miles from the growing location before reaching consumers. The distance traveled is obviously much longer when the food is imported from other countries. This is clearly not an energy-efficient food system.

Reliance on food produced from afar concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a few major food producers. Less than one-fifth of every dollar spent at a supermarket goes to the grower. When food is bought directly from the farmer, however, most proceeds go directly to the grower. Not only can local food support benefit the local economy and well being of the community in which it is distributed, but can also cost the same, if not less, than food grown elsewhere.

Buying local food will not only help local growers, but will help to preserve the environment as well. With less pressure to compete with farm conglomerates, local farmers can adopt more sustainable practices. Right now, relatively cheap energy and governmental subsidies facilitate large-scale agriculture is often destructive to the integrity of our soils and water.

By supporting local agriculture, a region's farmland can be protected from urban sprawl, thus helping to ensure the protection of open spaces, natural ecosystems, and biodiversity. Buying local food helps to reduce dependence on foreign oil needed to ship food thousands of miles, thus cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions.

Allegheny College recently hosted a meeting for farmers interested in forming a cooperative in northwestern PA. This meeting attracted fifteen growers from Mercer and Crawford Counties, representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and others who were interested in the idea. These farmers are interested in forming a cooperative to sell their products directly to local restaurants and institutions. Presently, the Meadville Area Local Growers convene at the Meadville Market House two days a week, late spring to early fall, to sell produce to community members and visitors.

Community support is not just helpful to the small farm owner. It is essential for the maintenance and sustenance of the farm. To read about local food and to find local foods markets near you, visit http://www.localharvest.org/or http://www.foodroutes.org/