OP-ED: Give Thanks For Local Farms, Fresh Food

What is a regional food system? It's a way to build a strong food system that connects people with good food from a known source and builds wealth and relationships at the same time by satisfying the nationally escalating interest in locally grown food.  Put more simply, it connects farmers to consumers.

Regional food systems also make economic sense. Take Ozark Mountain Pork Cooperative, owned by 52 Missouri family farms that process Heritage Acres Pork. According to their president, Russ Kremer, the family farmers involved are making a living, even thriving.  He's confident that a diversified farm of as few as five acres can support a family since he sees it every day.

Regional food is also extremely important to the health of our children. Farm to school programs can help in the fight against childhood obesity and economically support our local farmers. Recently the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution to establish October, beginning in 2011, as National Farm to School Month. This resolution will help Farm to School take one step closer to nourishing the nation one tray at a time.

It's the right time to take another look at food as an economic driver in rural America. We can create local and regional food systems to meet our need for fresh, locally produced, healthy food that not only tastes really good but keeps more dollars in our rural communities and healthier kids in our schools.

For more information visit www.cfra.org