Eating locally isn't about being some hippie who only eats organic apples. Instead, the local food movement is all about community and sustainability. Produce in the big supermarkets is sometime shipped from halfway around the world (which means burning lots of fuel), so it's not as fresh or nutritious as the stuff that comes from your local farmer or your own backyard.
Living in Nebraska, odds are you know a farmer. Farming is a major economic driver in our state--over $15 billion a year is generated by the Ag community. Nebraska also ranks ninth in the nation in certified organic cropland. However, how many of us know the farmer who grows the food we serve on our family tables? Sometimes we forget one of the easiest ways to stimulate our local economy and help our neighbors is to support local food.
Buying local food is pretty easy. Farmers' Markets spring up everywhere in our state starting in May, and there are even year-round facilities in Lincoln and Omaha. Becoming a locavore is one easy step to building healthier bodies, communities and the environment.
Buy Local: Whether it's buying direct from a farmer or rancher, shopping at a farmers market or eating at restaurants that have a local menu, there are plenty of ways to make your dollars work for local food.
Plant Your Own Garden: You can start in your backyard, join a CSA like Community Crops or go a step further and start a community garden. Check out the American Community Gardening Association for a step-by-step guide.
Volunteer: Don't have time or space to grow your own food? Volunteer to work on a ranch or farm. WWOOF helps connect volunteers with organic farms that need labor.
Join the Farmers Union: The Nebraska Farmers Union is Nebraska's largest progressive ag organization. They do amazing work supporting family farms and maintaining grassroots in rural communities. They have a brand new "Family Farmer Friend" membership if you're not a farmer but want to support their group.
Why should I buy locally?
There's a whole host of reasons! Buying local means supporting local economies, building community, preserving farms, minimizing pollution, being an environmental steward, improving your health and preserving genetic diversity. Plus, local food just TASTES BETTER.
Is local food the same as organic?
Nope. The "organic" label is regulated by the federal government. Organic food are produced without any synthetic inputs (e.g. pesticides or genetically modified organisms). Local food is just grown near you.
What is a "locavore"?
A locavore is someone who eats food grown locally whenever possible.
Is eating local really healthier?
The science is still out on this one, but UNC-Chapel Hill is conducting an extensive study. There is some traditional wisdom that food fresh off the vine is much more nutritionally dense than the stuff that's been on a truck for 2 weeks. Plus, if you're buying local food, odds are you're buying more fruits and vegetables which definitely means a healthier you.
Groups that advocate this kind of stuff or work with the Humane Society of the United States are just trying to turn us into vegans, right?
The evils of HSUS is a fantastic myth that several corporate ag groups have concocted to keep consumers in the dark. The fact is since 1980, Nebraska has lost 91 percent of its independent hog producers, 80 percent of its dairy producers and 40 percent of its beef producers. It's corporate ag groups who've lobbied against food system reforms and fought the local food movement who've decimated our ag industry, not HSUS.
- Watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution to learn about healthy meals in our school
- Become a urban local farmer in Lincoln through Community CROPS
- Find local food near you at LocalHarvest.org
- Get recipes and more info on local food CompletelyNourished.org
- Get local food delivered to your door from Nebraskafood.org
- Omaha Farmers Market
- Lincoln Farmers Market
- Connect with Nebraska's Farmers Union
- Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska, firstname.lastname@example.org
- John Hansen, Farmers Union, email@example.com
- Jim Knopik, local farmer and food advocate, North Star Neighbors Farm, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ingrid Kirst, local food advocate, Community Crops, email@example.com
- Christy Pooschke, local food advocate, Completely Nourished, firstname.lastname@example.org