AMES, Iowa -- The fun of shopping at a farmers market is a great reason for eating produce while it is in season and grown close to home, not to mention the payoff of eating hot, buttered ears of sweet corn picked fresh this morning.
But the popularity surrounding local food is more than summer enjoyment. Increasingly in Iowa and other regions across the United States, local food production is seen as a vehicle for rural economic development, creating jobs and other opportunities for young people interested in agriculture. Classroom teachers also have discovered that connecting kids to fresh, nutritious food helps promote healthy eating habits and can improve school performance.
Four new videos from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach discuss the importance of local food production in Iowa. The series “Why Local? Why Now?” explores some of the reasons behind investment in regional and local food systems.
“There are a number of reasons people are interested in local food system development and the videos outline why the rapid growth of interest is appearing in Iowa and around the nation,” says Craig Chase, Marketing and Food Systems program manager for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
Chase noted that local food production has other advantages in Iowa and the Midwest. Because of the way it is produced – on smaller farms that grow a variety of crops – local food production increases biological diversity and spreads risks across several enterprises. Farmers who grow multiple crops are likely to use crop rotation, which improves soil quality. Local food production also increases food security and access in rural communities that may not have a grocery store.
The videos highlight support from the Leopold Center and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, as well as many partners and organizations throughout the state that have been working to increase the availability of locally produced food products.
Find the videos on the Leopold Center’s new YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/LeopoldCenter, or watch on the Leopold Center website, www.leopold.iastate.edu/news/other-videos#local-food.