How Local Can You Go?
This is going to sound obvious, but here at PFM we are big fans of eating locally grown and produced food. Not only is it tastier and healthier than food trucked in from another state (or country), but it also supports the local economy because money spent on local food stays close to home and is reinvested in the community. And THAT is cause for celebration.
So when Oregon Food Bank announced their first-ever Local Food Challenge, we thought it would be a great way to promote our vendors, sponsors and local restaurants, all of whom help ensure that Portland residents have access to the food that benefits their health and community in so many ways.
Just in case you aren’t familiar, the Local Food Challenge, which runs from August 1-31, is designed to get people thinking about their food sources and connect with their community by pledging to spend a certain percent of their monthly grocery budget on local food. Local means items grown, raised or caught within 200 miles of their residences. Anyone can participate by signing up and then tracking food purchased from a variety of sources, whether it is from a garden, CSA, farmers market, grocery store or restaurant. Oregon Food Bank is encouraging participants to spend at least 10 percent of their food budget on local food. For some, this equates to about $5 per week, per person.
If you are reading this post, chances are that you already spend a portion of your monthly food budget on local foods – specifically at our markets. And if that is the case, great! We encourage you to sign up for the Challenge and record what you spend each week on groceries from one of our seven markets. We also suggest inviting others to join you on your weekly shopping trips. Share with them what you love about the market so much and introduce them to the best places to get fresh veggies, fruit, fish, cheese, eggs and other tasty items.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit one of our markets, we highly encourage you to do so! If you’re free and in the area, consider visiting our Saturday market on Portland State University’s campus for the widest variety of locally-produced goods. Or if mid-week is more convenient, you have five other markets to choose from almost any day of the week. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite food item, or discover a hot food vendor you’ve been wanting to try that will keep you coming back every week.
But remember, you don’t have to shop exclusively at a farmers market to participate in the Local Food Challenge or wait until a particular market to find one of our vendors.
You can also keep track of how much money you spend on local food while eating out or shopping at your local grocery store. Many of our vendors sell their goods directly to chefs of local restaurants, so if you go out to eat and happen to see a menu that says they source from local farms, be sure to count that as well! For example, if you visit Verde Cocina, Park Kitchen, Firehouse, Beast or DOC, you can be sure their menu features the best of local food.
And the next time you go to a local grocery store, like Food Front, Green Zebra or Whole Foods, look closely when you’re in the produce section. Next to the item description you might be able to see a farm name listed beside the price. Oh, and don’t forget to look in the refrigerated section, either. Some of our vendors, like Heidi Ho, Choi’s Kimchi, and Divine Pie also distribute their goods to local grocery stores, so you can still count your grocery store purchases toward your challenge goal.
However you chose to buy your food, we hope that you are able to make it as local as possible!