A recent analysis of Greater Sarasota's Eat Local Resource Guide and Directory, which published its first print edition recently, found that our local food sector has been growing at around 33 percent per year since April 2011.
Considering that a 2006 study concluded that Sarasota County residents buying just 10 percent of their food from a local farmer would add $80 million a year to our local economy, this should be considered a very significant development.
Yet it seems that too many people still consider local food a niche market, a pastime for wealthy foodies who want to feel better about themselves. I couldn't disagree more.
Not only have programs like Fresh Access Bucks and our own Suncoast Gleaning Project extended access to local produce for those who can least afford it, the cultivation of a robust local food economy is critical to the future health, security and sustainability of our community as a whole.
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So in addition to the opening of a new mall and the Sarasota School of Architecture, we should be celebrating the arrival of our area's Fourth Annual Eat Local Week, which runs Oct. 24-30.
Twenty-four local businesses and organizations have come together to offer a diverse program of 22 public events, a testament to the strength and momentum behind this movement and the importance of re-engaging with the most fundamental and universal of all human activities: the growing and eating of food.
Don Hall, Executive Director, Transition Sarasota