Almost one and a half billion dollars changed hands at farmers' markets across the United States during 2010. Yes, I was pretty surprised by that figure, too. According to the Department of Agriculture, the number of farmers' markets increased last year by 16 percent, up from 5,247 to 6,132 markets. Over three million Americans regularly buy food from the 60,000+ farmers who sell at these markets each year. This isn't the result of some multi-million dollar corporate advertising campaign. The success of the farmers' market is driven by the desires of people who believe that food is best when it's fresh, grown locally, and bought directly from the farmer who grew or produced it. So, who are the unsung heroes who are making all this happen?
Monday night we had a table at the panel, “Power, People, Poultry” sponsored by the UNC student group FLO. FLO stands for Fair, Local and Organic and is an association of students working to get this type of food into the school and into the larger food chain. Goals of the group include:
1. Establish a system of tracking sustainable progress
2. Sign on to the principles of the Real Food Challenge
3. Establish a Local/Seasonal menu database
4. Re-introduce grassfed burgers to Bottom of Lenior [UNC Dining Facilities]
5. Three Green Theme Meals per semester
6. Certification of local farms to develolp a Sustainable Farm Database
These may seem like lofty goals, but the group has already managed to get local grassfed beef onto the menu every Wednesday until the end of the semester. We enjoyed meeting such a committed group of students and wish them every success in supporting local, sustainable agriculture. For more information visit the FLO website.