JUNE 27, 2012
Regional success for the Verde Valley Agriculture Coalition
Team Leader of SEDI’s Regional Food Production and Security project, Jonathan Netsky discussed the obstacles and opportunities growers and food manufacturers have within our current food system. His experiences building his own business, Local Alternative Catering, based in Flagstaff, made him an ideal speaker at this 1st Verde Valley Food Forum held on June 19th in Cottonwood.
With more than fifty attendees from across the Verde Valley, Flagstaff, and Phoenix area, the forum was a great start to spark conversation about local food production in our communities. There are many obstacles that exist from rules and regulations to supply and demand in order to shape a new food system. Each speaker spoke optimistically that with enough support and creativity, communities could transform the current food system with one where community members buy and eat locally managed produce, meat and dairy products. This not only helps to support local growers and businesses and keeps dollars local, but also improves the health of the community as a whole.
Art Babbott, a SEDI Board member, runs the Flagstaff Community Farmer’s market and has extensive experience working with local food production in northern Arizona.
Art painted a picture where producers and consumers drive the demand and pay the right price for local products. Farmer’s markets have been sprouting up throughout the state of Arizona and a movement has been created by l0cal communities demanding healthy, local food. We as consumers have the power of choice and can create the demand for local products by spending our money in the community supporting Farmer’s markets, Community Supported Agriculture programs, and shopping at local businesses.
Arizona has a unique landscape where there are seasonal products that can be cultivated throughout the year and shipped throughout the state. With the current food system, around 80% of our food is imported from other areas in the US and from countries around the world. The reality of the food system is that we have an estimated 3 days of food supply if there was an emergency and imports were cut off. This is why SEDI, the Verde Valley Agriculture Coalition, Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization, and many others are making it a priority to stimulate conversations and start to look at ways to improve our current food system.