A Vibrant Local Food System – What’s in it for you?

(This article was written by Gurumantra Khalsa).

Riverside is already part of a robust food system. Riverside County is a top producer of numerous crops. We are the thirteenth largest producer in the State. Agriculture accounted for 25,923 direct and indirect jobs and $1,327,804,000 in crops and livestock. When factoring in the multiplier effect, agriculture was responsible for $2.77 billion in Riverside County for 2013.

Much of that output is exported, processed and reshipped back to our local markets. Such highlights the inefficiency of big agriculture in comparison to local.

Small farms ($75,000/yr) represent 85% of local markets. Large farm operations ($350/yr) represent 67% of the total agricultural market but only 5% of local markets.

The good news is that growers selling locally create 13 full time jobs per $1 million in earned revenue according to the Federal Register in 2015.

Every new local food connection between growers, processors and consumers positions Riverside to capture a significant portion of the value added from local food production.

Consider what local food production offers:

  • elimination of the two to three weeks of transportation time and
  • 1800 mile average trip associated with large scale ag processing
  • reduced carbon footprint
  • produce lasts longer when picked at it’s peak of freshness
  • maximizes nutrition
  • tastes fantastic
  • every step from farm to fork adds local economic and health value

What’s not to love about that?

A Virginia Cooperative Extension study showed that if households in Southern Virginia spent 15% of their weekly food budget on locally grown food products, $90 million in new farm income would be created for the region.

If that’s not enough, increased food security, improved public health and a lowering of the regional carbon footprint are added benefits.

It’s time to eat local. Enjoy the benefits. Taste the difference. GrowRIVERSIDE.

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