A new report came out this week that says Louisiana ranks near the bottom of the country for everyday people's access to locally grown foods. Like only three states — Arizona, Nevada and Texas — rank worse.
The report, called the Locavore Index by a Vermont-based group, ranks states according to number of farmer's markets, number of CSAs, number of food hubs (basically people who collect and distribute food from local farms and producers) and percentage of schools districts with farm-to-school programs.
And Louisiana doesn't look good. I don't know about you, but I've lived in the South long enough that I get tired of all the reports and research that shows the South stinks on everything from education to obesity and now access to local food. And yes, I know most are true. But I also know statistics don't define us.
So with that, I guess I see the discussion, discovery and celebration of local produce and the ways we share our food — I don't think the researchers in Vermont know about all my friends' backyard gardens or the guy that sells raw honey off his back porch — that we can nurture a culture that champions fresh, local foods.
And like the new Saint Francis Vegetable Garden that will start supplying fresh local food to area food banks this year, I see the interest. And everywhere I see the tradition. . . if we can just fight the culture of advertisers and their fast food.
Anyway, I've been thinking about farmer's markets, accessibility and the cost of produce a lot lately. So look for more on farmer's markets, home gardening and untracked roadside/home produce "stands" in Louisiana and the US. All things that make this assessment of accessability more complicated than stripped-down data presents and all the more reason to keep finding fresh.