While not the first city to adopt a local food buying policy, representatives for San Luis Obispo see it as a model that could be used by other jurisdictions. And the city is hopeful that private area institutions including schools and hospitals will follow suit, decreasing costs and providing healthier, fresher food options. City representatives say that many other jurisdictions in California have- or are about to pass similar measures.
The Tribune reports that the city worked with Farm Bureau growers to develop the program, which supports the local area economy—especially farmers. It helps to preserve the agricultural land of the region by keeping farms active. According to the 40-member consortium of local groups known collectively as HEAL-SLO (Healthy Eating Active Living — San Luis Obispo), the county lost 7,000 acres of farmland between 2000 and 2002 to urban development.
Decreasing the distance between where food is grown and where it is ultimately purchased lessens the use of fossil fuels in transport. The fewer miles between field and fork means it is likelier that the food is significantly fresher, which impacts the nutritional value.
Local food movements are on the rise around the country with record numbers of farmers markets emerging. There are now more than 7,100 markets across the country—growing by more than 1,000 markets between 2010 and 2011, according to the USDA.
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