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Virginia leading the local food movement?

Here’s a look at local food that goes beyond the kitchen, the restaurant and the plate.

The Weldon Cooper Center’s public policy newsletter for September focused on the local food movement in Virginia, noting that Charlottesville was termed, “locavore capital of the world” by Forbes magazine in June.

You can find the publication here. It offers an overview of all that’s been going on in the state’s local food economy in recent years, and offers some policy suggestions at the end.

The newsletter makes the point that local food plays a role in economic development, a community’s identity and sustainability and in making sure populations in need get decent nutrition.

A few highlights:

  • The Virginia Cooperative Extension estimates that if every household in the state would devote $10 of its weekly food budget to local food and drink, the action would translate to a $1.65 billion impact for state and local economies.
  • “In 2011 the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) documented more than 100 food festivals in Virginia, which provide entertainment and fun over eleven months of the year, featuring all kinds of Virginia-grown foods such as beef, pork, oysters, crab, apples, peaches, berries, garlic, ramps, corn, peanuts, and wines. From rural to urban communities, food tourism is boosting local economies.”
  • “The number of farmers’ markets grew from 88 in 2005 to 198 in 2011. … These markets are flourishing not just in urban regions. Rural and remote areas, too, are seeking the same benefits.”
  • Local food is playing a role not just in economic development, but also in social justice. The report highlights several programs, such as Culpeper’s Volunteer Farm, founded in 2010, that grow food with volunteer labor to donate to area food pantries.
  • Spotsylvania County’s farmers market was one of the first in the state to accept SNAP benefits in 2009. Two years later, 36 markets around the state, including those in Fredericksburg and King George County, accept SNAP benefits. The report states that markets that have accepted these benefits have reported sales increases of 10 to 20 percent.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/frontburner/2011/09/26/1098/