Join the Real Food Revival

Buy fresh from local farmers and enjoy the world’s healthiest, best-tasting food by joining the real food revival.

| August/September 2005

People across the country are finding new and reliable ways to put fresher, healthier food on the dinner table. They are buying locally — milk, eggs and meat from the farm down the road; delicious tomatoes and peppers from an open-air market downtown; and herbs from a next-door neighbor. Increasingly, such choices are easier to find.

More than 3,000 farmer’s markets, 1,000 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and hundreds of natural food co-ops have answered the call for “Real Food” across the United States, and those numbers continue to grow. Meanwhile, local food also is appearing on menus from upscale restaurants to school cafeterias, hospitals and other community-based food services.

Ideas about the importance of local and organic food that took root in the 1970s have blossomed into a Real Food Revival that now supports large numbers of small-scale farmers and growers on the local level. One reason for this growth is that consumers are beginning to voice their concerns about the food they buy in the supermarket.eclining freshness and flavor, factory farm pollution, inhumane treatment of animals, pesticide residues and an overabundance of processed food are all pressing consumers to look for better food choices.

Eliot Coleman, a Maine market gardener and long-time advocate for local farms and sustainable agriculture, says the appeal of Real Food is simple: It’s fresh and delicious, and buying it supports the local economy. “The interesting thing about Real Food is that everyone knows what it is,” Coleman says. “Real Food is the stuff that comes from the farmers.”

One of the most important precursors of the Real Food Revival was the establishment of the National Organic Program in 1990 and the program’s organic certification standards, which went into effect in 2002. Among other stipulations, the standards require that organic milk and meat must be produced without antibiotics and growth hormones, and that produce must be grown without chemical pesticides or genetically engineered seeds.

These days, more and more customers are getting on board. The Organic Trade Association estimates that the organic industry has been growing at a whopping 21 percent a year since 1997, as compared with a 3-percent growth rate in total U.S. food sales. Another significant influence has been Slow Food International, which was founded in 1986 in Turin, Italy, and works with farmers and food lovers worldwide to preserve traditional and regional foods, from wines and cheeses to rare vegetables and meat. In fact, the Real Food Revival is deeply rooted in traditional farming practices, and its momentum is the result of the efforts of individual farmers, ranchers, restaurant owners and community leaders who are working to promote the healthy, sustainably produced food that is the hallmark of such traditional farms.

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