Michigan local foods rising in popularity
The 2013 Locavore Index ranks Michigan as 22nd in terms of commitment to local foods.
How does Michigan compare to the rest of the nation in the area of availability and consumption of locally produced foods? A Vermont-based local food advocacy group recently ranked Michigan 22 out of the 50 states and District of Columbia in 2013, moving up from a 2012 ranking of 25.
In an interview on WKAR Radio’s Current State program, the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems Director, Mike Hamm, referenced the Locavore Index and highlighted several indicators that demonstrate progress being made in Michigan. First, the number of farmers markets in Michigan has increased from 90 to 280 during the last 11 years according to the Michigan Farmer’s Market Association. Second, in recognition of the economic development potential of Michigan’s agri-food system, the state government is providing money for development of regional food hubs, which help regional producers aggregate, distribute and market their products. Third, farmers are taking advantage of new market opportunities like schools and hospitals, which are increasingly interested in purchasing locally grown products.
In addition, local food advocates highlight the following benefits of increasing investment in local food systems:
- Improve your local economy
- Create new jobs
- Increase the health of your residents
- Lower health care costs
- Create new businesses
Progress in our state’s commitment to local foods is demonstrated by Michigan’s move up from the 25th slot to the current ranking at number 22. The top five slots in 2013 go to the states of Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Iowa – and the last five slots are the states of Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Arizona and Nevada. While these rankings are all relative, the stated purpose of the Locavore Index is to encourage local food efforts in every state. With Michigan’s rich agricultural diversity and our 2010 policy initiative, the Michigan Good Food Charter, which presents a vision for Michigan’s food and agriculture systems for the next 10 years, Michigan should continue to rank well in terms of its commitment to local and regional foods.
Michigan State University Extension Community Food Systems educators are affiliates of the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and work on initiatives around the state that inform and support local/regional foods. For more information on this team and their educational initiatives, go to MSU Extension Community Food Systems webpage.