The growing season ahead can help propel us towards building a more resilient food system. To be more resilient, it is critical that food systems include local sources. Consumer behavior in the next few months can lead the way to what is possible and buildable.
Here are six positive trends occurring now that consumers should continue:
- Shoppers are taking the extra time to secure food from a wider variety of retail sources. Supporting diversification in the food supply is extremely important.
- We are cooking more. By doing this we are paying more attention to what food goes into our meals.
- We are moving nutrition up the ladder of importance in our buying habits. Buying whole fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, whole grains, fresh eggs supports local food systems, and is also great for the consumer because it is significantly more nutritious.
- We are paying attention to the people involved. We are more aware of the people who stock the shelves and their importance to us. We are more aware of local farmers and butchers. We are more aware of the essential people needed to get our food to us.
- Our food choices are economic choices. We are in a rare moment when we can see our money in the economy.
These points are separate from federal and state aid to farmers. Government distribution of dollars to farmers has always been a political calculus. This crisis will be no different. The biggest government contributions will not be made towards something new, but rather towards trying to shore up and protect the existing food systems. US farm policy and federal aid to farms is not necessarily bad, but it tends to do little for local food.
So what to do? Keep asking for local food when you are shopping at stores and farmer’s markets. Ask where your food comes from. Enjoy your meals.