A recent study conducted by the University of Florida show Floridians are buying more locally grown foods. According to the survey results, one-fifth of the food purchased by consumers is locally grown. Food was purchased at restaurants, farmers markets, grocers, or direct from producers. For some, the product was grown within a 100-mile radius of the shopper’s home, and for others it was grown in Florida. Regardless of the technicality of what defines “local”, it does show the value our agriculture producers and local farmers add to our communities.
Shoppers cited freshness as the most important factor for buying local, as well as food safety, nutrition, price and food security. Florida ranks high compared to other states. Local foods represent close to 19 percent of total food purchases, for at-home consumption. This translated to over $1100 per year. Other states average about 5 percent. While one-fifth is a fairly good ratio, it could easily be improved if a few items were addressed. The survey revealed that shoppers weren’t really sure what “locally” grown meant and that labels don’t always tell you this information.
One promotional medium producers can use to help improve consumer awareness of locally grown foods is the Fresh From Florida opportunities that exist through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The division of marketing and development 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.