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Sustainable food in an unpredictable world

From FWHorch.com comes good advice in general, but it is especially relevant given the food prices increases that are expected to follow this summer’s widespread droughts in the U.S. As the author notes, “As a food-importing state, Maine needs to think more carefully about our food security. Sustainable local food policies, combined with better agricultural practices and crop varieties, will make it possible and affordable to meet our nutrition needs with fresh and local produce.”

The following essay is excerpted from their Green Tidings newsletter:

Explore your pathway to local food: We can sustain our local farmland and farmers by buying food that is grown locally. Here are some ideas to help you make the transition to locally-grown food.

Locally-grown food means food that is grown within one hundred or so miles of your home. The key idea is to buy food grown near you to keep local farms in sustainable production. Doing that will improve the security of our food system and strengthen our local economy. Because most food in a large supermarket is shipped long-distance from remote processing centers, buying locally-grown food means exploring other places to buy food besides a “big box” grocery store.

A good place to start is to educate yourself about which foods are in season during the year. In Maine’s climate, we have an abundance of fresh, local produce in the spring, summer and fall months. During winter, stored root vegetables and preserved foods are available. You may need to change your family’s expectations about which foods you eat during certain times of the year. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association publishes a series of Seasonal Food Guides complete with recipes.

Shopping at a local farmers market is a great way to ensure that the food you buy is grown near you. You can also buy a portion of a farm’s production through community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares. Even better is to plant a vegetable garden, berry bushes or fruit trees on your own property. Blueberry bushes are especially delicious and low maintenance. Maine’s Cooperative Extension service is a great source of information for the home gardener.

When eating out, look for restaurants in the Eat Well Guide, a free online directory for anyone in search of fresh, locally-grown and sustainably produced food.

Finally, keep in mind that even a small change in your buying habits can add up to have a big impact. According to MOFGA, “if people spent $10 per week on local foods, it would keep an additional $100 million in the Maine economy.”

Sign up for the newsletter at FWHorch.com.

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