The Local Food Movement and Local Food Initiatives
In recent decades, with great growth along the way, more people have gravitated towards purchasing local foods. As a grassroots movement, the local food movement has been an influence that has become an everyday thing in North America. Although most of what the human population consumes is produced on rural land, the local food movement has entered urban areas of North America with many individuals participating in urban farming. This paper will describe and discuss the growth of the local food movement in North America with an emphasis on urban farming practises that have arisen in many cities across the continent. The local food movement contributes to a global industry, with much of local food sales taking place in the United States. In a study that was performed in 2008 detailing local food numbers in the U.S., sales “were estimated to have grown from $4 billion in 2002 to $5 billion in 2007 and were projected to reach $11 billion by 2011” (Ikerd 50) To add to the growth in local food sales in the U.S., 2007 Census of Agriculture data determined an increase in small farms, which is the first sign of growth in decades. Between the period of 2002 and 2007, the U.S. saw an increase of 14,631 small farms. (Starr 479) The local food movement is recognized for its growing popularity and has even broken into a market of its own. The movement dates back to the 1960s when certain people began to identify themselves as hippies, distinguishing themselves as different to most Americans. Ikerd speaks of the rise of a different community of people after “Rachel Carson’s…Silent Spring, had awakened public awareness to the environmental risks of agricultural pesticides.” (Ikerd 50) The new community responded to Carson’s publication by growing their own foods and purchasing locally at farmers markets. The movement gained momentum throughout the 1970s and 1980s when people outside of the hippie culture were becoming more aware to the dangers and risks in the process of industrial agriculture. During this time, many North American people were concerned about where their food was coming from and questioned whether it was being grown naturally, leading to the birth of organic certification. Organic foods, which are now an everyday option found in most grocery stores, have only been present in the markets since the 1990s. A trusted institute, “organic certification allowed producers to gain access to even more distant markets, as farmers and consumer began to rely on certification.” (Ikerd 51) The production of organic products has grown stronger since it originated and has been accompanied by smaller, more local food initiatives. Local food initiatives are defined as “the food organizations, activities, and businesses that support the creation of local food systems in which food is grown, processed and sold within the same geographical region.” (Canadian Co-operative Association 2) Local food initiatives are the centre and the driver of the local food movement and only one in ten Canadians do not believe in the benefits of such initiatives. In an Ipsos Reid survey conducted in 2006, “given a list of possible benefits of locally grown fruits and vegetables, respondents were most likely to say the top benefit is that local foods help the local economy.” (CCA 2-3) Over half of the respondents believed the top benefit was that local foods taste better, with half of respondents saying that local foods are cheaper. Examples of local food initiatives that will be described in this paper are small-scale rural farms, urban rooftop farming, community supported agriculture (CSA), and the production of urban backyard chicken. In Canada, governments are responding to the consumer demands within the local food movement and are choosing to invest in programs to promote local foods. The Province of Quebec, which has seen a rise in CSAs, “is investing $14 million over three years into a new initiative...
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