Nutrition expert writes about the burgeoning local food movement and offers a roadmap for those interested in improving their diets with local, sustainable food choices.
AUBURN, California — Consumers, grocers and restaurateurs at all levels of our nation’s culinary food chain are heading to farmers’ markets, pick-your-own organic food farms, and otherwise utilizing community supported agriculture resources in droves. This awareness spotlights that high value, locally farmed food is good for our health, communities, local farmers and farmland; is economical (often less expensive than the grocery store), convenient, and fun to source; and that it tastes great. For these reasons and more, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point food and nutrition professor and registered dietitian Jasia Steinmetz champions the local foods movement in her new book, “Eat Local: Simples Steps to Enjoy Real, Healthy & Affordable Food,” a simple, step-by-step roadmap for improving diet and nutrition with local, sustainable and organic food choices.
With the extraordinary amount of interest in local foods comes an inevitable array of questions and even concerns amid a marketplace hungry for information and insight. Among other tasty tidbits, Steinmetz writes and talks about timely and compelling “local food” topics, including, but not limited to, the following:
● Economics: budget savvy local food shopping tips that save money
● Convenience: How purchasing local foods can be far more convenient than you think
● Children’s Health: How locally grown foods can be integral in the fight against childhood obesity, while also better promoting family traditions
● 10 ways local foods promote health and wellness
● Key benefits of local foods – health, economic, environmental, and otherwise
● Myth-busting – debunking concerns and challenges regarding sourcing, procuring and preparing local foods
● Step-by-step guidelines for finding and using local foods
● Seasonal local food eating strategies
● Local food cooking & preparation tips
● Menu transformations: top tips for making holiday and other family dinners a bounty of fresh, healthy foods with local, sustainable food choices
● The why's and how's of finding, purchasing, preserving and using local foods grown near your community
● Ways to change and improve our “runaway food system” for future generations, such as supporting school gardens or farm-to-school programs and hunger projects, farmland protection, etc.
● How to properly pick local produce and important questions to ask the farmer, grocer or other food purveyor
Just last month the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed a whopping 17 percent annual growth for the U.S. farmers’ market trade, alone, with its 2011 report citing, “more farmers are marketing their products directly to consumers than ever before.” Findings also reveal that several states have experienced rapid farmer’s market growth since 2010, with some states realizing a staggering 46 percent growth rate in one year alone. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan underscores the implications and significance of this increase, saying, “The remarkable growth in farmers’ markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods. These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their businesses and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods. In short, they are a critical ingredient in our nation’s food system.”
Steinmetz says, “The way we produce food today has radically changed, and we are increasingly becoming disconnected from our food supply. As well, resources such as soil and water are diminishing at alarming rates, compromising our future food supply. The good news is communities and citizens can partake in local foods and, in doing so, help reclaim control of our collective food system to make it safer and more dependable for ourselves and future generations. My book is the first-of-its-kind, offering a simple, easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide on finding and purchasing local foods, which benefit our food system, bodies and budgets.”
For more information about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2011 National Farmers Market Directory findings visit the USDA website.
Long time local foods activist and Registered Dietitian Jasia Steinmetz, author of “Eat Local: Simples Steps to Enjoy Real, Healthy & Affordable Food,” is a food and nutrition professor at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the School of Health Promotion & Human Development. Her areas of expertise include sustainable food systems, community food security and community nutrition. Steinmetz is a founding and current board member of the Central Rivers Farmshed, a community group that promotes local food and supports local farmers. As an agriculture-focused gardener, Steinmetz actively promotes the benefits, ease and availability of local foods within her community and those nationwide. She also travels extensively, having visited multiple regions of Central America, Asia, Africa and Europe. Steinmetz currently resides in rural Wisconsin with her husband.
“Eat Local: Simples Steps to Enjoy Real, Healthy & Affordable Food” (New World Publishing, September 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0-9632814-5-6) is an essential guide for enjoying local foods. While many have heard about local foods, most don't know how to go about changing their food choices and integrating local fare into their menus. This book is a simple, step-by-step, roadmap for those interested in improving their diets and menus with local, sustainable food choices. “Eat Local: Simples Steps to Enjoy Real, Healthy & Affordable Food” guides consumers through four main sections: Eat Local – the why’s and how’s of finding, purchasing, preserving and using local foods, etc.; Saving Money with Local Food – tips to save money with local foods; Eat Well – eating seasonally, slow food, “less meat” or vegetarian options, etc.; and the Local Food Movement – how to join a local food movement, supporting school gardens or farm to school programs and hunger projects, farmland protection, etc. This concise, easy-to-digest handbook is perfect for those who want a shorter, simpler way to understand how to easily make local foods a part of their lives. Learn more about “Eat Local: Simples Steps to Enjoy Real, Healthy & Affordable Food” at the website.