JANUARY 9, 2012
Theresa Bierer – Flagstaff Business News November 18, 2011
Despite living at 7,000 feet where Mother Nature follows her own rulebook, a group of people is working to increase options for locally grown food.
Flagstaff-based Local Fare was started by some Northern Arizona University students and faculty members who saw both a need and an opportunity.
One of the group’s members is Joanna Hale. While doing graduate work at Northern Arizona University, she saw significant food disparities: some community members were buying food at the Flagstaff Community Market and eating at restaurants serving local organic produce, while other demographics had lifestyle health issues like childhood obesity surpassing national averages.
“One of the things Local Fare is interested in is making good and healthy food accessible to a wider population. So, we’re conducting the research to find out how to make that happen,” said Hale, who is a Local Fare project coordinator. In its inaugural year, some studies have been conducted to identify challenges and possibilities for increasing local and regional food production. Master’s student Liz Krug gathered data from restaurants, institutions (like Flagstaff Medical Center) and grocery stores throughout Flagstaff and the Verde Valley. Eighty-six percent of people and businesses interviewed said they would like to offer more local food in the future, but that quantity of goods could be a problem. “So I guess the broader question would be how do we start addressing that and I think on the production side, farmers and producers coming together and collaborating more might help address some of that insufficient volume the demand side is experiencing,” Krug said. For some, the higher cost of locally grown organic food is another obstacle.