Buy Fresh, Buy Local delivers homegrown food

Zoe Webb's garden
Junior Zoë Webb’s family continually grows fresh organic foods in their backyard garden every year.

Junior Zoë Webb’s family continually grows fresh organic foods in their backyard garden every year.

Impacts families and the community with homegrown foods

As the pace of our world is increasing every day, families’ lives seem to be more and more chaotic and meal times are suffering.

Between parents having to run their kids to school, get to work, take them to soccer practice, get them to a band lesson, take them to youth group or attend a school activity, days are jam packed with all of these errands, and nutritional meals are becoming less of a priority.

When families are faced with all this chaos, they usually resort to heading through a drive through, going out to eat at a restaurant or throwing a boxed dinner into the oven.
Families take little to consider how these quick meals were made. Possibly the products were raised halfway across the world, grown with pesticides, wrapped in packaging and shipped to Iowa.

In 2003, The Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign was started in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area with the help of the University of Northern Iowa, Food Routes Network and Practical Farmers of Iowa.

It’s designed for farmers who sell to area people, restaurants and grocery stores. Local food supports farmers in the area who in turn spend their money in the community.

Andrea Greary, who is part of the Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership, said, “Eating local food connects people to their land and the people that grow their food. It provides a more sustainable living to food growers, which in turn stimulates economic development, community development and rural vitality.”

Choosing to buy fresh and local doesn’t always mean going out for food. Some also grow their own food at home.

Junior Zoë Webb said, “My family believes it is better to eat at home because it is simpler and more convenient. It saves money and gas, so there is less climate change.”
The less the food travels to reach Iowa usually means it was probably picked at the peak of ripeness. Fruits and vegetables, when bought locally, were probably ripened before being picked, allowing them to store more nutrients.

“Local food travels fewer miles than the average 1,500 miles traveled by most food found in supermarkets, therefore is typically fresher and has been distributed using less packaging and fossil fuels. In short, eating locally produced food helps to rebuild a healthier food system than the one we currently have,” Greary said.

The more families who choose to grow their own foods, buy from the community or simply choose to eat at home save money, the less they contribute emissions to the greenhouse effect.

“I do feel different than most families these days; most don’t grow their own food or obsessively eat organic. My family grows potatoes, peas, onions, carrots, rhubarb, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, radishes, eggplants, currants, basil and lettuce.” Webb said.

Many area businesses support the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign by selling produce in their stores or using area foods in their restaurants.

Greary said, “The easiest and most rewarding way to eat local food is to build relationships with food growers in your area. This can be accomplished through shopping at farmers’ markets, purchasing a share in farm’s seasonal bounty through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription or contacting farmers listed in our Buy Fresh, Buy Local Food Directory.”

Local consumers can not only help the community but also themselves.

“My dad majored in agriculture and my mom just likes gardening. We’ve got a lovely big yard that was just calling out for a garden. By growing some of our food, it does not necessarily make life easier, but certainly more satisfying,” Webb said.

To find a list of area businesses that support the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign, go to www.ceee.uni.edu and see the downloadable local food directory along with other Buy Fresh, Buy Local information.

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