Get Inspired by Illinois’ Local Food Action

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: News, Recommendations | Tags: , , , , |

Grist reported last week on a law recently passed in Illinois to promote local and regional food infrastructure. The law establishes a fresh farm council and encourages the state government to support local food by allowing state agencies to pay up to 10% above the lowest bid for purchases of local produce.  The goal is to have 20% of money spent on food by the state of Illinois be on purchases of food grown in the state.

According to Grist, only 4% of money spent by Illinois residents on food is spent on products grown in the state. In other words:

“Illinois has tens of thousands of farmers and only one half of one percent of them sell their products in their home state.”

As Grist points out, by encouraging local food consumption, Illinois is helping farmers diversify the crops they grow. Currently, Illinois is the number two commodity corn producing state in the country (behind Iowa). Corn is a safe crop for farmers to grow and they continue to grow it and sell to the national market if they have no incentives to do otherwise. By allowing state agencies to pay a premium for local crops, farmers will have the incentive to grow different crops (they are guaranteed a market, and they are guaranteed a higher price) as opposed to sticking with corn.

Local food consumption has numerous benefits (reduced greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, fresher produce, etc) From a strictly economic standpoint, buying local helps boost the local economy more than other consumption. Check out this graphic from Yes Magazine:

Benefits of Buying Local from Yes Magazine

Benefits of Buying Local from Yes Magazine

All this has implications for all those notorious subsidies to mid-western farmer. A 2001 report by Grist contibutor Ken Meter found that if consumers in the mid-west bought,

“15% of their food from local sources, it would generate as much income for the region as two-thirds of farm subsidies

Added to the recent support of the local food movement from Michelle Obama and the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, encouraging local food infrastructure, the Illinois law could be indication of a mindset shift on local eating.

Feeling inspired? Check out Edible Chesapeake’s latest issue for recipes featuring seasonal local ingredients from our area. The pasta with tomatoes and swiss chard and the gingerbread pears sound delicious!

Where can you find local ingredients? Check the Washington Post’s directory of DC area farmer’s markets. Also, look out for locally grown products at your grocery store.


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2 Responses to “Get Inspired by Illinois’ Local Food Action”

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I dont know If I said it already but …Cool site, love the info. I do a lot of research online on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

…..Frank Scurley

Awesome blog!

I thought about starting my own blog too but I’m just too lazy so, I guess Ill just have to keep checking yours out.

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