Ag Lit BitLocal Food is Here
Classrooms talk about it, newspapers write about it and grocery stores feature it: Locally grown food. What is the definition of locally grown? It depends on where you google or who you ask. Here are some definitions of the term I received several people I asked: “Those crops produced by farmers in that area or neighboring city”, “Grown within a certain distance of where the item(s) are sold”, “It’s a marketing must. Positive, current”, “Your neighborhood farm”, “Farmer Markets (farm stands)”, “Anything grown within 100 miles of where I am.”
I was in several classrooms last month and the students’ answers to that question ranged from “food grown up to one mile away” to “food grown within the United States”. There was no consistent answer except the students said that we should eat locally grown foods. I had some sweet corn with me, and the students agreed that it was a good example of locally grown food. “Where could you grow sweet corn around here and pick it in May?” I asked.
We talked about many foods that previously weren’t being produced here in the winter but are now through hydroponics, aquaponics and vertical gardening. Farmers are producing locally grown lettuce, microgreens, tomatoes and more due to new techniques of growing food. It’s becoming more feasible to eat only locally grown food any time of the year, but especially summer and fall with the explosion of farmers’ markets.
Throughout the various programs we do as part of Ag in the Classroom it is amazing to hear the questions students are asking these days and how curious they are about farming and food. There’s never been a more important time to educate them about the production, processing and distribution of food and there have never been more opinions on that topic as there are in today’s classrooms. As we wrap up another outstanding year of classroom presentations, the questions on the minds of children have never been more consistent with the questions their parents and all families are asking about food.
So, what is the definition of locally grown? As you can surmise, it depends on who you ask. Ask a farmer this summer and read your food labels. I encourage you to keep asking and hope the students in the classrooms next year keep asking and bringing more questions. That’s what keeps things interesting and grows our curiosity to learn more. To read more on this topic, check out http://www.ilfb.org/resources/consumer-resources/hidden-food-miles-and-local-food.aspx .
Diane can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org