With the unprecedented demand for local foods in Virginia and the United States, it can be challenging, and at times overwhelming, to know where to start and how to support local farmers in very practical and tangible ways. One recommendation of the Virginia Farm to Table Plan is to encourage each household in Virginia to spend $10 per week of their total food budget on locally-grown Virginia food and farm products year-round.
This small step and conscious decision can have a big impact on the local economy. Research by Virginia Cooperative Extension has shown that if each household in Virginia would take the step to spend just $10 per week on local farm foods, our state’s economy would gain more than $1.65 billion in new income each year. But what about my county, what would it mean in direct economic impact. If Shenandoah County households, for example, took similar steps, Shenandoah County‘s economy would gain more than $9.6 million in new income each year (From Appendix F of the Virginia Farm to Table Plan). This is a small step we can all take to grow the local economy!
If you are new to the concept of local foods, here are some easy ways to spend $10 a week:
- Buy local veggies, eggs, cheeses, chicken, meat, milk, herbs, or fish, from a farmers market, farm stand, or orchard, or from specially labeled local sections in your local grocery or supermarket.
- In restaurants, ask for a locally-sourced beverage: local wine, cider, milk, beer, kefir, etc.
- Choose restaurants that feature locally-grown food items.
- Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, and enjoy a delivery of locally-grown foods each week.
- Seek out an online ordering system for locally-grown or produced foods.
- Order locally-grown items for office lunches, parties, and conferences.
- Purchase locally-grown food products for holiday gifts and entertaining. (Apples, pears, syrup, jams, honeys, cheeses, peanuts, salsas, etc.)
- Buy local milk or cream for your daily coffees, and look for local teas that include locally-grown herbs and fruit.
- Be creative, have fun and share your ideas with friends and neighbors!
If each household in Virginia made even one of these small decisions and steps each week with their food purchases, it would have a big impact on our local economy and community!
Note: If you are interested in the economic impact this decision would have for your specific city, county or region, please refer to Appendix F in the Virginia Farm to Table Plan.