Monday, August 24, 2009

Can you eat local for one week? Take the challenge!

Virgil Severns and his granddaughter Ashley Knowlton of Rangeview Farms regularly provide local produce to customers at the Tanana Valley Farmers' Market.
The "Eat Local Challenge" has been issued for Aug. 23-29. Alaska Grown urges citizens to accept the challenge to eat local foods, especially now when produce is readily available.

Benefits, as cited at Alaska Grown’s website, include:
  • support for local farmers and farm economy
  • Eating locally helps you put your money where your mouth is. Your food dollar goes to local growers and helps them continue to farm, providing food for our local markets, bakeries, and butchers.
  • helps you to eat healthy
  • You can get locally grown foods at the peak of freshness, nutritional value (since nutrients diminish over time) and flavor. Ripe, fresh fruits and vegetables taste better, so it’s easier to eat more of them. Compare this with produce that’s picked early and unripe for long-distance transport and longer shelf life.
  • helps the environment by cutting down on excess transportation and food miles
  • On average, food travels 2,000 miles to reach your plate in Alaska, so eating local foods that are sustainably grown helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With rising fuel costs, the price of globally sourced food is likely to increase as transportation costs are passed on to the consumer. Eating locally can also help preserve open space by retaining farms instead of pavement.
  • helps build community
  • Community is enhanced by growing your own food and sharing with family, friends, and food banks. Shopping at farmers’ markets and farm stands enables you to strike up a conversation with the person who grows your food. Participating in a community garden or edible schoolyard and teaching or learning about growing food with others.
Alaska Grown challenges Alaskans to:
  • Try eating at least one home-cooked meal this week, made of mostly local ingredients.
  • Try to incorporate at least one never-before-used local ingredient into a meal.
  • Try “brown-bagging” at least one meal this week made primarily from local ingredients.
  • Try talking to at least one food retailer and one food producer about local food options.
  • Try to choose local food products whenever possible.
  • Remember, if it says Alaska Grown, you know it’s local!
Farmers’ markets in the Fairbanks area include the Tanana Valley Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Saturdays (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and the Ester Community Market Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Ester Park. The Alaska Farmers Market Association has a list of markets throughout the state.

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