Watch for increasing choice of local produce
by Zach Bruce
Our Co-op was formed 40+ years ago around the idea that if enough of us combine our dollars and cooperate, we can bring healthy, sustainably grown food into our community. Over the decades this idea has evolved into a more local vision: one where we source as much food as possible within our community and regional growing area.
It’s no secret that the modern food system has its shortcomings. You may have heard the oft-cited statistic that conventional food in the US travels, on average, 1,500 miles from farm to consumer. Lucky for us in California, with our fertile valleys and abundant sunshine, we’re able to grow almost all our produce within state lines. But how much of that is local to our growing region or within a close travel distance that doesn’t overstress energy resources? Some retail/grocery chains go so far as to say anything from within California or even withint the western states is local, even when a product travels hundreds of miles to consumers. There is no industry consensus on what “local” means, so be cautioned that labeling can often just be marketing hype.
Summer is the most abundant time of year for California farms which means the harvest is in full swing here in Nevada County. BriarPatch Produce Manger David Benson refers to this time as “peak local”: when we have the highest percentage of local produce on our shelves. During May-June of this year, 17% of total produce items at BriarPatch were local. For July – September we anticipate this number to jump to around 30%. You can refer to the previous page to see exactly what local produce items our farmers are filling our shelves with now.
As our community’s appetite for locally grown food increases, so does the number of small farms and their diversity of offerings. BriarPatch will continue to support farmers by creating a stable marketplace, guaranteeing farm loans, financing organic certifications, and facilitating crop planning. We believe that small farms are essential for healthy communities, economies, and soils and are grateful for the opportunity to grow together.