Taste, tradition, health, sustainability, clean, fair, and environmentally friendly are all great reasons to care about local food. Jobs are another. We live among 18 miles of seashore and acres of harvestable farmland, in a region full of people passionate and interested in local food. We, too, are passionate about building a local food economy, and partnering with committed businesses, farmers and fishermen who feel the same way.
Rebuilding our local food system to provide healthy, clean and fair food for all of us year round is going to take an all-out effort of imagination, ingenuity and entrepreneurship, but we’re excited about the possibilities. The local food system could be a tremendous driver of our economy. A recent study in Vermont showed that if Vermonters substituted local products for only 10 percent of the food they import, it would result in $376 million in new economic output, including $69 million in personal earnings from 3,616 jobs. Right now, less than 5 percent of the food we eat in New Hampshire is grown or harvested here. So there is plenty of room to grow. In 2006, the Maine State Legislature updated Maine’s Food Policy to include a goal for Maine to grow at least 80 percent of the food it eats by 2020. We could do the same.
More and more people are gardening, farming and seeking out local foods on the Seacoast. Thanks to the work of committed farmers, fishermen, distributors, processors, markets and restaurants, we’re able to put a place and even a face to our food, which then, in turn gives us, the consumers, ownership over our food and the power and personal responsibility to come together to protect, conserve, and invest in this tremendous resource.