Last week, just like my colleagues, I spent some time in the New York Office. There were plenty of things that were mentionable, but one item struck me particularly: in the cafe, they listed on a grease board all of the local farmers where their food supplies arrived from. They were boasting about the "Localness" of their offerings and for good reason. Serving the volume of food that they do, a company of our size can have an impact on local growers. I'm glad that they're so proud of helping bring local food and produce to the employees. There's a movement afoot in places like South Carolina to try to bring more locally grown food to residents. Sometimes it's hard to determine where things are coming from. Unless you go to your local farmer's market, it's difficult to know for sure if something is local or not.
In South Carolina though, things are changing. Agriculture officials there have unveiled a new effort to brand locally grown produce. The campaign will label apples, watermelon, tomatoes and other fruit and vegetables with "Certified SC Grown" stickers starting in June. Television, billboard and print advertisements will run concurrently, and within three years the campaign will expand to include all of the state's agricultural and manufactured products, including shrimp, soybeans and forestry products. Officials are hoping the program will lift state pride, boost agriculture revenue, contribute to rural economic development by driving the demand for more diversity and availability of homegrown products, and preserve open space by keeping farms operating.
The best part? Farmers can participate for free! They've built a great website which features recipes, stores and roadside stands that sell the state's produce and a calendar that shows when produce is in season.
Come on Illinois. Lets get in gear. I think I know of a few legislators who could benefit from sponsoring something like this. Wouldn't it make you buy something more readily if it was grown locally?