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Group wants local food kept inside the state

By: Ilin Chen

Article from News 14 Carolina

RALEIGH – A new statewide initiative aims to keep the food grown on North Carolina farms in North Carolina.

Farmers are working with government officials and businesses to create a local food economy in an effort called Farm to Fork.

Nancy Creamer, with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, estimates less than 2 percent of the food produced in the state actually stays.

"A lot of our products now go out of state, and we may be buying our apples from out of state," Creamer said. "If we can buy our own apples and get those into our school systems, then we keep all that money here in the state."

She said if North Carolinians spent just 5 percent of their income -- or 55 cents a day -- on local products, that would generate close to $2 billion dollars for the economy.

But the effort is not without challenges.

"We don't have the infrastructure anymore to get local products to local consumers," Creamer said. "We're missing processing. We're missing distribution networks. We're missing a lot of the pieces that we used to have before we had a more global food economy."

That's why advocates say it'll take a coordinated effort across the state.

"There are a lot of different players in this game," Lee Menius, with Wild Turkey Farms, said. "There are a lot of different parties that have been doing the same thing in parallel without realizing that other people are there."

Organizers say the next step is to establish a state action plan with short- and long-term goals.

 

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