Buying Food

From our friends at The Counter, this excellent overview of the history of Black farmers and current actions to dismantle racism in our food system.

Farmers market managers take note and count on us at the Texas Center for Local Food to support your shift to a more diverse customer base. “… the recent movement in the U.S. to promote healthier and more sustainable eating by supporting local farmers’ markets among other things was overwhelmingly white. So though there has been a boom in farmers’ markets in recent years — they grew by 76% from 2008 to 2014, and another 6% since then, according to the USDA — they typically serve affluent white populations and too often have erected barriers that discourage farmers and other vendors of color.

Black farmers’ markets work to “redesign the food system”

Farmer Market Managers Highlights (full report is here)

In 2019, Farmers Market Managers operated 8,140 farmers markets.

The largest number of markets operated during June through September. The month of July was the highest month of operation, followed closely by August, with 71.9 percent and 71.8 percent, respectively. Twenty-one percent of the markets operated year round.

At 52.4 percent, Saturday was the most common day of operation.

Fruits and vegetables composed the most common food category sold at 99.6 percent of markets, followed by Condiments and sauce at 94.1 percent.

The percent of markets that had locally grown labeling totaled nearly 84.7 percent. Gluten free and Grass-fed had 46.1 percent and 46.0 percent, respectively.

Of the 4,076 markets that accepted Federal Nutrition Programs, 78.7 percent accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Of the 4,352 vendors/producers who accepted Federal Nutrition Programs, 66.7 percent accepted Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), followed closely by Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) at 66.3 percent.

On an average market day, 916 households shopped across markets in the U.S. and spent $14,547 per farmers market.

Farmers Market Managers served as paid employees in 4,321 markets, while in 3,162 they served as volunteers. On average, the paid Farmers Market Mangers earned $18.40 per hour. Managers worked an average of 19.4 hours per week.

There were 31,609 volunteers contributing their time across 5,078 markets.

This article in the Austin Chronicle (March 8, 2019) highlights the latest players in the burgeoning Austin consumer packaged goods (CPG) world. We want the best of these companies to locate in Elgin where we have land, farms and a strong labor force. At the Texas Center for Local Food, we’re raising funds now to build the Elgin Local Food Center to provide jobs and opportunities for our region’s talented food entrepreneurs.

And yea, we want to help them buy from our Texas family farms! So hey you up and coming CPG companies, drop us a line.

Farm to Institution New England (FINE) has released the new report Campus Dining 201: Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities for Farm to College in New England. The report summarizes the results of FINE’s 2018 survey of New England colleges and universities with dining services.

Results show that 93 percent of responding colleges reported purchasing local food for their dining services. On average, responding colleges spent more than a fifth (21.5 percent) of their annual food budget on local food (spending $67.7 million on local food). Read the full report for more information on specific food items that colleges are sourcing locally and those they report are difficult to source locally; procurement goals; distributors used; self-operated colleges and food service management companies; and much more. 
Download their new research report to learn more!

This article from Urban Food Futures gives a brief overview of the changes happening in our food system. Spoiler alert: high volume buyers make big differences in our food sourcing and eating. We would add the fabulous Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP)! We’re a proud member of the Austin area GFPP team with the City of Austin Office of Sustainability, UT Austin, Austin ISD, Huston-Tillotson University and the Austin Convention Center.

The American Medical Association released a study in 2018 showing a 25% drop in cancer diagnoses for people who eat organic. This could be a big win for Texas organic farmers. How will we get this information to consumers? In Texas we rely mostly on private companies and the Texas Department of Agriculture to market Texas-grown organic foods. Is this enough? Leave comments to share your thoughts on how we could market Texas organics!

Here is a good summary article from New Hope Network on the impact of this research.

U.S. household food purchasing is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions – about 16% of total U.S. emissions in 2013. Households with higher incomes contributed the most to greenhouse gas emissions. This report is summarized on the site of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and published in the Journal of Food Policy in August 2018.

Actions you could take to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions: eat a little less meat, eat food grown closer to home, waste less food.