What is Local?
The Purple Porch Co-op has tried to be inclusive of the Michiana area by placing a 60 mile radius around South Bend. While this is somewhat flexible, we pride ourselves in our commitment to keeping the food miles to a minimum. Vegetables, fruit, meats and eggs are grown/raised within that 60 mile radius. Other value-added products (i.e., breads and desserts) have their value added by producers within the 60 mile radius.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines local as a 400 mile radius.
- The PPC Store includes both our Michiana Neighbors (60 mile radius local) and Midwest Regional Producers (400 mile radius local) products. Below is a map that points out where we get our "local" food.
- Our Wednesday Market continues to be 100% PPC local (60 mile radius) producers.
There are many reasons to buy locally grown foods:
- Locally grown food tastes and looks better. Crops marketed close to home are picked at their peak and usually sold within 24 hours of harvesting. Food imported from far away must travel on trucks and planes and then it is stored in warehouses.
- Local food is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that the nutrients will be lost from fresh food. Most fresh produce loses much of its nutritional value within 48 hours of harvesting.
- Local food supports local families. The wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are usually very low, sometimes not more than the cost of producing them. Local farmers who sell directly to consumers cut out the middleman and can get full retail price for their food -- which helps families be able to continue farming their land.
- Local food builds community. When you buy direct from a farmer, you're engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower and you're supporting a local business. Getting to know folks who grow your food helps you know more about the place you live. In many cases, it gives you access to a place where you can go to enjoy nature and the seasons, and to learn more about how food grows.
- Local food preserves open space. When farmers get paid more for their products by nearby shoppers, they're less likely to sell farmland for development.
- Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Our farms encompass a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, streams, and ponds that provide essential habitat for wildlife. Additionally, long distance transportation of food increases air pollution.
- Local food preserves genetic diversity. In industrial agriculture, plants are bred for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there are only a few varieties in large-scale production. This leaves our food supply vulnerable to disease or disaster. Smaller local farms, in contrast, often grown many different varieties to provide a longer season, an array of colors, and the best flavors.
A town of 100,000 can spend roughly $150 million yearly on food products. If only 10 percent of the $150 million is purchased from local growers, $15 million would be kept in our local economy. This money could be re-spent to benefit other businesses, the school system, and city and county budgets. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University estimated that Iowa could gain an additional $302 million and 4000 jobs if Iowans ate five fruits and vegetables a day that were locally grown. In addition, there would be enormous health savings on a health diet.