Dig In! to Local Food

“Local food” can be a challenging idea to define or bring to life beyond soundbites. It is often understood as simply food that hasn't traveled far to our plates. But the term “local food” isn’t just about distance.  It is about community and connection; it is about transparency. Being able to ask our local farmers and producers about how they grow their crops, treat their animals, and produce their products allows us to connect with our food.  We believe that local food conversations should also include our farmers’ and farm-workers’ ability to make a living and feel supported by their community, and healthy food access for all members of our community, regardless of income level.  

We challenge you to become knowledgeable about what you are putting in your body, where it comes from, and ways to support community-building efforts.

Not all local food is created equal. Just because a product advertises that it is local does not necessarily mean that it carries the values you wish to support.  So, ask questions and dig in.  Here’s how:

Step 1: REFLECT ON WHAT “LOCAL FOOD” AND A “FOODSHED” MEANS

Beyond miles or distance to your plate, how might you define a “foodshed”? What and who is involved in “local food” practices? What are your assumptions about the impacts of “local food” on our community, including the land, air, water, animals, and people in our region?

Step 2: GROUND YOUR REFLECTIONS

Think about one of your favorite foods. Do you know if it is grown and/or produced locally? If you couldn’t answer that question with complete confidence, Dig In! to how the food found its way to your plate. A local grocery store, restaurant, company, or farm might give you ideas about what food is determined as “local.”  Do you agree with their definitions?

Step 3: DIG IN! TO WHAT A FOODSHED MEANS FOR BOULDER COUNTY

Use The Shed’s resource list at our website, ask questions of local experts, read more, and find out about the foodshed in Boulder County. Learn where our regional food and/or its ingredients come from. Research how it is grown, raised, harvested, processed, packaged, and/or transported --and by whom-- before you consume it. Discover what threatens or makes possible local food.

Step 4: THINK CRITICALLY

What does it mean to think of yourself as part of this foodshed? What ideas do you want to share with our community that you learned? Is it connection to others and the Earth? Humane treatment of animals or workers? Knowing the farmer who grew your food? Money kept in the local economy? A lower carbon footprint? Better taste? Healthier options? Does “digging in” uncover any surprises, inspirations, or complications you think are important for our community to discuss?

We’d love to hear about what you have discovered.  We invite guest posts on our blog, The Scoop.