Building our local food economy

Published 6:33 pm Thursday, June 23, 2011

by Jimmi Buell
Sometimes bragging is good.
We live in a wonderful agricultural community. You can buy fresh local foods in several places throughout the county. When you talk to people about buying local, you hear people say with pride: “I already go the farmers market.”
Well, I say prove it by joining the 10% Campaign, because it’s a way for us to support our farmers.
What is the 10% Campaign? It’s an initiative, sponsored by the Center for Environmental Farm Systems (CEFS), asking shoppers to spend one-tenth of their weekly food budget on goods grown or produced locally.
Participation is easy. Go to and answer four questions:
1. How many people are in your household?
2. What’s your estimated weekly food budget?
3. Where do you find locally produced food?
4. Where did you hear about the campaign?
Numbers 1 and 4 are easy. If you aren’t the sort of person who has their budget figured out to the penny, the website suggests $1.05 per person per day as a rough guide for calculating 10 percent of your weekly food budget.
Using the $1.05 suggestion, a family of three would need to spend $3.15 per day, which is $22.05 per week, on goods grown or produced locally.
These dollars can be spent at farmers markets, local restaurants or bakeries, and your own garden. The campaign encourages consumers to count homegrown produce toward their total. How easy is that?
The advantage of shopping locally and supporting the 10% Campaign is to support local farmers and food manufacturers, aid in the creation of more jobs and opportunities. According to CEFS, North Carolinians spent approximately $35 billion on food last year, which means if everyone joined the 10% campaign, the potential exists for $3.5 billion to be circulated to the local economies.
“With the 10% Campaign we will be able to show businesses and policymakers and others that there really is a demand,” said John O’Sullivan, a director of CEFS based at N.C. State University.
While some North Carolina counties have limited access to local foods, here in Polk County we are blessed to have four farmers markets and many roadside stands. The success of the 10% Campaign in Polk County and North Carolina will depend on all of us doing our part by eating our way to better health and a better economy. Our farmers and restaurateurs will appreciate your support.
If you have any questions or you don’t have a computer call the Polk County Extension Office at 894-8218. Jimmi Buell, FCS Agent is the local 10% Campaign coordinator.
Editor’s note: This is the first of a new column in which county extension agents will address local agricultural and related issues. This week’s author, Jimmi Buell, is a Polk County Extension agent and the local coordinator for the 10% Campaign.

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