The Importance of Choosing Local

Little Big Sky Farm

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unexpected challenges across the economy, but especially for local food growers and makers. They face reduced markets as a result of restaurants, schools, corporate campuses, and other buyers being closed. That’s why Lakewinds has joined with other food-minded organizations to create “Local Food is Essential,” a campaign to encourage local eating and help small-scale farmers get through this crisis.

“We’re trying to serve the land and serve people by giving them the best nourishment to help their bodies and their whole selves,” says farmer Elizabeth O’Sullivan of Auntie Annie’s Farm, a 2019 LOFF recipient. “Support from the community is important to us in practical ways, but also in an emotional way. Farming is hard, but it makes a big difference to feel like our community believes in what we are doing.”

GRAISE farm

Impacts of Local Food

When people buy locally grown food instead of food shipped from far away, it has a many positive impacts, such as:

  • Reducing carbon footprints by minimizing “food miles.”
  • Ensuring the meat, produce, grains, and dairy products we eat are as fresh, safe, and delicious as possible.
  • Supporting the ongoing survival of farms and farmers in our community and the long-term food security they provide.
  • Strengthening the local economy by helping local farmers and makers earn a living and, in turn, support related agricultural partners.
  • Preserving farmland and ensuring green, healthy, open spaces are here for generations to come.

“Having many family farmers producing our food supports rural communities — schools, hospitals, businesses — while also increasing the accountability and safety of the foods we consume,” says Anne Schwagerl, owner of Prairie Point Farm. “As a farmer, it’s rewarding to produce meat and grains to the highest quality and ethical standards I am able. And then in turn, sell these to a community of eaters that we have developed over the years.”

The bottom line, says Schwagerl: “Local food builds resiliency and transparency in our food system and communities.” That’s something we should all support.

GRAISE Farm

The Eat Local Pledge

Ready to step up your support of local farmers and food makers? That’s what the Eat Local Pledge is all about. Commit to swapping out some foods you buy that come from far away with ones grown or made locally.

At the co-op, you’ll see local options in every aisle. We have Superior Fresh aquaponic greens and hydroponically grown tomatoes, cucumbers, and herbs. Our meat, dairy, and cheese cases are filled with local products — like Sassy Cow and Organic Valley milk, GRAISE eggs, Peterson beef, Pastures a Plenty pork, and Kadejan chicken. Our grocery aisles abound with local, including Great River Milling flours, American Hazelnut company oil, locally roasted coffees, and more. Just look for the “LOCAL” icon!

Take the pledge and see more ideas for food swaps throughout the year at localfoodisessential.org.