Local, seasonal food has been the subject of federal, state, and local government policy in recent years as consumer interest in and demand for this kind of food has grown. In fact, research from the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (piecenter.com/local) shows Floridians spent $8.3 billion on local food in 2012. Not only is this dollar amount continuing to grow, consumers are continuing to look for more local food options. In fact, they are interested in most anything offered and flexible about what they purchase!
Still, there is no consensus about how to define “local food systems.” Is it local because of geographic distance? Or is it local because it is grown within the state? Are there exceptions when the products you want are available or are out of season? Whatever your standard definition for local food, consumers are eating it up!
Retail grocery stores, farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), roadside stands, U-pick operations, and restaurants were among the most popular places the aforementioned research found consumers purchasing their local food. Additionally, consumers want this food easy to access, high in quality and not too high-priced.
Both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) support this growing movement. USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory provides consumers with convenient access to information about farmers market listings to include: market locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, accepted forms of payment, and more. (http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets)
FDACS maintains a list of community farmers markets throughout Florida, but, because community farmers markets are not required to register with the Department, the list is not a complete one. Being listed does not imply that a market is endorsed, approved, or otherwise sanctioned by FDACS. (http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Marketing-and-Development/Consumer-Resources/Buy-Fresh-From-Florida/Community-Farmers-Markets)
According to FDACS, Fresh From Florida produce available during the month of August includes: avocado, carambola, guava, longan, lychee, mango, mushroom, passion fruit, and peanuts.
So many opportunities exist for folks to eat healthy and seasonally. Are you getting your share? Stop by your favorite source and stock up on what’s Florida-fresh this month!