The term “local sourcing” refers to a food system that sources foods from local and regional sources rather than national or international sources. The food purchased is grown “close to consumers’ homes, then distributed over much shorter distances than is common in the conventional global industrial food system” (source). Although it’s not always possible to get all ingredients from a local food source, many restaurants and catering companies that are committed to local sourcing try to get as many ingredients as possible from local farms and distributors.
- Product grown or raised in Wisconsin
- Product with most or all ingredients grown or raised in Wisconsin
- Product with half or less of the ingredients from Wisconsin
- Product grown or raised within 100 miles of the institution
- Product processed in Wisconsin
- Product made by a Wisconsin-owned company
They’re good for the environment.
Large-scale industrial firms have a negative impact on the environment through factors like air, surface water, and ground water pollution, over-consumption of fossil fuels and water resources, degradation of soil quality, and acceleration of the loss of biodiversity. Additionally, conventional food from these farms generally travels between 1,500 and 3,000 miles to reach the consumer and requires extra packaging and refrigeration (source).
Small, family-run farms are generally concerned with sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. These farms help to offset the environmental damage done by industrial farms by practicing the following:
- Minimized use of pesticides
- Shorter transportation distance to consumers
- Minimal to no packaging for their farm products
Not all food products are available locally. For example, bananas only grow in countries with tropical climates. In addition, some foods only grow in certain locations on a seasonal basis. Therefore, 100% local sourcing may not be a viable option for a restaurant or catering service. Additionally certain food products are more expensive when purchased locally from smaller farms. This is generally because of the fact that industrial farms produce such a mass quantity of items that they are able to charge less. However, the advantages of local sourcing far outweigh the disadvantages. Furthermore, as more and more people continue to support small, family-run farms, prices may decrease for products they are not able to make on a large scale. Because “local” does not have a clear definition, there are many to work local sourcing into your business’ budget.
What do you think? Do you try to buy local or eat at restaurants that do? Let us know in the comments!