There is a growing movement of people who want to shake hands with the farmers who grew the tomatoes they’re eating, provided the eggs they’re frying. Consumer demand is prompting big-box stores such as Wal-Mart and grocery-store chains such as Bashas’ to stock their shelves with food that is grown, if not within the ZIP code, at least within the state, according to Julie Murphree of the Arizona Farm Bureau. Eating local isn’t just a preference for fresh-tasting, usually hormone- and chemical-free food. It also means sparing the environment. Reducing the distance food has to go from the field to the kitchen is driving consumers to demand local, local, local, says Murphree, who grew up on an Arizona farm. Many valley chefs such as Chris Bianco at Pizzeria Bianco and Chrysa Kaufman of Rancho Pinot may have been among those who began the drumbeat for local, fresh, seasonal food, but the consumer is following their lead. In the last census of farmers (done in 2002), there were 711 farms that sold directly to consumers. Those farms reported annual sales of $3.9 million, Hermes says. Experts expect that number to increase in the next census, which was started last month. But even though Hickman’s Family Farms eggs (the state’s largest commercial egg producer) and Shamrock Dairy (a locally based commercial dairy) are available at nearly every grocery store, and local products are showing up on more retail shelves, knowing what’s available and where to buy it can be a challenge. For more information on buying foods locally grown visit www.farmdirectory.org, where you can locate by growing season, ZIP code and product a list of farms near you.
Eat Local Foods, Think Global
August 26th, 2009 TheSaltyChef