Local and Sustainable Food Sourcing Options

Local Food

Food consumers that prioritize sustainability are seeking
out local and sustainable food sourcing options as a source of healthful
dining. By purchasing locally, consumers reduce energy consumed for
transportation as well as carbon emissions while supporting small businesses in
their region.

Presage Analytics’ food safety and quality assurance
software reflects this ethos perfectly, helping companies provide eco-friendly
sourcing practices while still making a profit.

Local Farmers

Purchase local food directly from farmers or producers is
one of the most sustainable choices consumers can make. Doing this allows you
to establish close ties with your farmer while learning more about their
farming process and supporting your community economy at once. Furthermore,
buying locally reduces waste produced from shipping food long distances.

Instead of supermarket produce that has traveled for days
or weeks to reach you, locally grown fruits and vegetables are picked at their
peak of freshness to be consumed immediately or stored for later use in your
refrigerator. It is important to remember if storing fruits and vegetables,
they must be properly stored so as to preserve their quality.

Locally produced foods may be healthier than their
industrial counterparts. Local farms typically use less pesticides and
fertilizers, and more likely grow organically, protecting you and your family
from potential side effects from chemical-laden food products.

Support your local farmers to promote a more sustainable
agricultural system that depends less on fossil fuels for production and
transport of its foodstuffs. Food’s carbon footprint depends more on its
production methods and land usage than on distance traveled to reach consumers.

Purchase local foods can help conserve farmland. Without
demand for produce from these farms, farmland could become commercial or
residential use, having adverse consequences on both wildlife and the
environment. Well-run farms provide ecosystem services like conserving fertile
soil, protecting water resources and sequestering carbon from the atmosphere –
which all need protecting.

Many local farmers practice sustainable agriculture as part
of a family tradition, reaping both financial and noneconomic rewards from this
type of farming. Beyond economic gains, sustainable farming also fosters
community within local neighborhoods while creating an identity for their
region. Local food systems offer ways for consumers to form new social
relationships with farmers through farmers markets, u-pick farms and community
gardens.

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a
resurgence of interest in finding locally grown and sustainable foods. There
are various websites, guides and directories dedicated to finding these foods –
farmers markets, CSAs and home delivery options are among those listed as
places where local products can be bought.

Local Markets

Local Markets

The local food movement isn’t just an empty platitude.
According to FINE, local and regional foods sales totaled an estimated $6.1
billion in 2012 – one of USDA’s funding priorities! Farmers markets provide
many advantages for both growers and consumers: locally produced foods reduce
carbon emissions while keeping fresher for longer. Consumers can develop closer
bonds with producers through community gardens, farmers markets or u-pick
farms.

Local food systems not only bring environmental and social
advantages, but they can also assist communities in planning for a crisis.
Communities with strong local food infrastructure are better prepared to keep a
stable food supply during times of disaster or pandemic; this includes creating
community and institutional preparation strategies as well as conducting
assessments of community-based food systems as well as planning for their
security.

While locally sourced foods provide many advantages, their
growing and procurement also present unique challenges. One major hurdle
involves connecting local food producers with larger institutional buyers – but
luckily there are now various tools to bridge this gap such as online market
platforms, apps, and software that help local food producers communicate
directly with potential customers.

Institutional buyers can play an essential role in
supporting local and sustainable agriculture by setting purchasing targets
based on sustainability criteria. For instance, UCSF’s retail dining halls have
been purchasing 29% of their ingredients from producers who meet at least one
sustainability standard such as organic production or reduced antibiotic usage
on farm animals.

Consuming locally produced food can have many environmental
advantages, from increasing agricultural productivity and decreasing food
waste, to decreasing travel emissions from deliveries and transport.
Unfortunately, not all farmers can opt for local supply, with some having to
sell produce into larger national and international markets to cover costs.
Building an effective local food economy requires innovative thinking from all
players involved: farmers, distributors, retailers and restaurants all play a
part. As our local food movement expands further it’s important that we
remember that what we eat has far reaching consequences on our environment.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Community supported agriculture

Community supported agriculture (CSA) can be an extremely
mutually-beneficial partnership for both farmers and consumers alike. Farmers
gain a guaranteed market in exchange for advance payments from members, which
ease their financial strain during early stages of growing season. Meanwhile,
members benefit from fresh produce delivered regularly as well as meeting the
people responsible for growing it – while it might not be suitable for
everyone, it can provide an excellent way to support local farms and sustainable
agriculture.

In addition to providing farmers with a steady market for
their crops, Community Supported Agriculture can assist them with managing the
high costs associated with seed and other inputs. They can keep costs low by
eliminating middlemen and delivering directly to customers; furthermore they
can focus on reducing pesticide and chemical usage as part of this CSA model;
additionally it reduces food waste due to overproduction and spoilage, making
CSA an environmental win as well.

Although Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) can bring
many advantages for both farmers and consumers, its setup can be complicated.
There are various strategies available to make it more affordable for
lower-income consumers such as pledge-based CSAs or sliding scale pricing,
where lower income individuals pay an affordable share price while still
receiving all of the same products available to wealthier people.

CSAs can provide consumers with an alternative to grocery
shopping by giving them an opportunity to experience the taste and texture of
different fruits and vegetables first-hand, learn new cooking techniques, and
appreciate the sense of community fostered by membership of a CSA.

CSAs range from being run by one farmer selling produce at
farmers’ markets to complex networks of farms working together on harvest
schedules to form one big CSA operation. This multi-farm approach allows each
vegetable operation to focus on its core strengths while offering diverse
products for the community as a whole. Dairy and fiber operations may
collaborate with vegetable CSAs so their products reach as many people as
possible.

Technology

Technology

As more consumers become aware of the environmental impacts
associated with food supply chains, demand for local and sustainable products
has seen a sharp surge. Integrating such techniques into your business not only
reflects consumer values but can also reduce operational expenses through
improved efficiency and operational stability.

Data analytics and transportation optimization technology
is available to reduce the environmental impacts of operations, including
prioritizing routes with data-driven routing to reduce carbon emissions while
simultaneously decreasing fuel costs and energy use for transportation.
Prioritizing electric, hybrid, and alternative-fuel vehicles minimizes their
use as well as associated greenhouse gases emissions.

Direct-to-consumer sales or community-supported agriculture
offer one way of cutting energy consumption and materials use associated with
packaging and transport of foods. By purchasing directly from farmers or
suppliers through direct sales or CSA models, energy consumption and materials
consumption can be reduced as well as increasing food quality by decreasing
time exposed to heat, light or moisture.

Local sourcing offers many advantages beyond improving the
environment and supporting community economies. It can provide greater
assurances of food quality and safety, providing businesses with an edge in
differentiation from their competition. Institutions with substantial
purchasing power may partner with distributors to aggregate farm produce from
smaller producers for sustainable dining options that offer more sustainable dining
solutions to students or patients.

Local sourcing movements have the power to bring great
change to the lives of farmers and communities alike. By relieving them of
dependence on an unpredictable global marketplace, which is especially
problematic for small farms, local sourcing can help secure livelihoods.
Furthermore, it can increase profitability by cutting production and
distribution costs and expanding market reach by offering customers more varied
menu options.

While purchasing locally sourced ingredients and products
can have a positive impact on the environment, it’s important to remember that
just because something is local doesn’t guarantee it was produced sustainably.
Just because a farm uses natural fertilizers instead of chemicals or factory
farming does not guarantee sustainability.

 

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