This time last year, we posted an article sharing how a recent study by the University of Florida showed Floridians were buying more locally grown foods. The survey showed that one-fifth of Floridians bought locally grown food, whether from restaurants, farmers markets, grocers or direct from the farms. Shoppers are partial to their local community and tend to stay within a 100-mile radius, which makes perfect sense. To support Florida’s farming industry the Florida Department of Agriculture launched a far-reaching ad campaign several months ago.
But a new article in the Herald Tribune tells a different story this year. Commissioner Adam Putnam was visiting a school in the Sarasota area and shared the message that Floridians have an access problem to locally grown food. He said the situation was apparent in both rural and urban areas. The article calls the issue a food desert and says even in areas where farming is successful, residents don’t have access to the food and are struggling with hunger and poor nutrition.
The state is launching a new tool to help with the situation. It’s a mapping tool that will can be used by nonprofits, food banks and other organizations to locate food and share about it in the most needed areas.
One tool is provided by the division of marketing and development, which operates 13 State Farmers’ Markets that provide Florida producers with marketing facilities necessary to move farm products from farm to consumer. For more on this initiative, visit http://florida-agriculture.com/. In the meantime, support your local agriculture producers and buy locally.