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Nikki Keltner
Program Coordinator - Stephenson County
University of Illinois Extension
Highland Community College, Bldg R
2998 W Pearl City Rd
Freeport, IL 61032
Phone: 815-235-4125
FAX: 815-232-9006
nkeltner@illinois.edu

Stephenson Local Foods Initiative

Stephenson Local Foods Initiative

Where does your food come from? The Northwest Illiinois Local Foods Task Force wants you to be able to answer that questions with, "Right here in Stephenson County!"

The group is launching an ongoing initiative that will help increase consumers' awareness of foods that are produced locally and available from restaurants, caterers, and retailers throughout the county. Identifying these foods will be easier due to a new symbol that sellers can use to mark fresh produce, packaged foods and menu items.

"Along with increasing consumers' awareness, we're working with food outlets to encourage the use of local foods and connect them with growers and producers who can supply their needs," said Margaret Larson, director, University of Illinois Extension - Stephenson County, andmember of the Local Foods Task Force. "We are working to simultaneously build supply and demand."

Larson sited several reasons to support local foods:

· Enjoy exceptional taste - Local food is fresher and locally grown varieties tend to be bred for taste and freshness, rather than shipping and shelf life.

· Strengthen the economy - Buying local keeps dollars circulating in the community.

· Support local farms - Local food is often sold directly by the farmer, allowing the grower to keep more of the profit.

· Encourage health and safety - Increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables, and wholesome dairy products is good for your health. Plus, knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown allows you to support a safe food supply.

· Protect the environment - Less reliance on shipping foods long distances reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing material. It also helps make farmland more profitable and sustainable.