Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Local Foods Guest Memo: Palm Beach, Florida Post: Local Foods Movement Booming in the Sunshine State of Florida USA

At age 6, Katie Shirley (pictured above) just might be the youngest local family farmer, as well as the most adorable, in America. Katie, who's parents own Jupiter Farms in Jupiter Farms, Florida, and her three siblings, ages 4 -to- 12, have their own farm on the family plot. That local foods' producing farm is called Veggie Kids Farm. The four young local family farmers sell their vegetables at the farm and the local green market. They also give their neighbors some of their overflow, since the kids are said to have not only cultivated bumper crops of vegetables at their local farm but green thumbs as well. (Photo: Allen Eyestone. Courtesy: The Post.)

Natural~Specialty Foods Memo Editor's Note: The local foods movement is booming in Florida in the United States, according to an article in today's Palm Beach Post newspaper, which is based in Palm Beach, Florida.

According to the piece, three major factors are driving the growth of the local foods' movement in the state: the soaring cost of food, the seemingly never-ending gasoline price hikes, and a concern on the part of consumers over the safety of the food they eat, especially that from far away.

Sighting one example of the growing popularity of locally-grown fresh produce in Florida, the Palm Beach Post story sites the fact membership in the Florida chapter of Local Harvest, the Santa Cruz, California-based "grow-local, buy local" foods organization has jumped to 250 members this year, from just 68 in 2004. Local Harvest members include farmers' markets, local family farmers, local food purveyors, and food stores and restaurants which sell locally-grown foods, among other businesses and groups.

U.S. membership in the Local Harvest local foods support organization has tripled in the last four years, from a mere 5,413 farmers and local foods-oriented businesses and organizations, to 13, 740 at present, according to Guillermo Payet, the founder and president of Local Harvest based in the Northern California coastal city of Santa Cruz.

Florida, the Sunshine State, is fourth behind California, Texas and New York in population, with about 19 million residents.

It's not called the Sunshine State for nothing. One of the most productive agricultural states in the U.S., Florida produces 75% of all the oranges consumed and used to make orange juice in the U.S., and supplies nearly 40% of the world's orange juice via its orange crop, for example.

the weather and soil in most of the state is conducive and welcoming for small farmers to produce lots of local fresh fruits and vegetables, which is another reason the local foods movement is growing so much in the Sunshine State.

Read the article, "Demand booms for local produce as fuel prices, safety concerns increase," in today's issue of the Palm Beach Post here.

What the piece reports on and discusses regarding the boom in local foods in Florida echoes what's happening across the U.S., from giant California, rainy Washington State and the Empire state of New York, to nearby New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and smaller states like Montana and Vermont, along with so many others.

Locally-grown and buying locally is hot in the U.S. just like it is in Western Europe and Australia for example at the moment. We think its a trend and not a mere fad.

Retailers who ignore the local foods movement do so at their own peril, in our analysis. Food marketers that aren't yet getting involved in the local foods movement if they are able to also are missing the boat we believe.

The good news is that since it's a solid trend rather than just a fad, there's still time for both retailers and marketers not involved in local foods marketing and merchandising to get involoved. But remember, like in all business activities, there is an advantage to being a first-mover.

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