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Study: Local food benefits health and economy

Study: Local food benefits health and economy
February 12
00:00 2013

“The Forsyth County Community Food System: A Foundation to Grow,” a study commissioned by Forsyth Futures, The Winston-Salem Foundation and Forsyth County, found that there are many efforts afoot to preach to residents the benefits of locally-produced food, but that more partnerships and cohesion are needed to truly get the message across.

The study sought to provide an objective assessment of the current community food system in Forsyth County and to serve as a catalyst to maximize the economic and social impact of the production and consumption of local foods. The ultimate vision of the study is to have a community food system that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable by promoting a strong local food economy, ensuring producers and food system workers a fair and sustainable livelihood, and providing all communities with access to fresh and healthy foods. It was conducted from May 2012 to January 2013.

Results, which were released last week, show:

• Forsyth County has an active and passionate community food system, with over 60 initiatives currently working to enhance the food system. To continue to foster initiatives, build connections and ensure communications between stakeholders, there is a need for stakeholder coordination.

• In 2007, purchases of fresh produce, meat and poultry directly from the producers in the study region (Forsyth, Davie, Davidson, Guilford, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties) totaled $2.3 million.

• The launch of a consumer education campaign around the benefits of producing and consuming local foods will assist in creating a greater economic and social impact, as well as increased marketing and product availability.

• The development of a shared-use processing facility will allow farmers and food entrepreneurs to enter the retail market through processed and value-added food products.

• An increase in produce delivery to businesses, schools and faith-based organizations will help producers reach a broader market and increase residents’ access to healthy, fresh foods.

The complete study can be accessed at www.forsythfutures.org/localfood and www.wsfoundation.org/localfoods.

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