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Commentary: To ‘Eat Local, Buy California Grown’ benefits all

Issue Date: April 13, 2011
By Fiona Ma and Cathleen Galgiani
A farmers market of California-grown foods was one feature of 2011 Ag Day celebrations at the state Capitol. A resolution introduced the same day would encourage Californians to eat food grown in the state.
Photo/Matt Salvo
Cathleen Galgiani
Fiona Ma

As members of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, it's important to us that our constituents and all Californians have access to wholesome, affordable food. Because of that, we've taken a keen interest in the health and vitality of California farms and ranches, and we are encouraged to see more people paying attention to the source of their food and what goes into bringing it from the farm to the table.

California enjoys a rich heritage as one of the world's most prolific agricultural regions. California foods are justifiably famous for their abundance, diversity, freshness and high quality—and all Californians can help to maintain that heritage and fame, whether they live in the city or the country.

Buying California-grown food helps local family farmers as well as California consumers. In addition, buying California-grown agricultural products helps all those employees who work producing, processing and transporting California agricultural products, and helps their families as well. Food production contributes billions of dollars to local economies in California each and every year.

Surveys show that 85 percent of California consumers say it's important to them to purchase foods grown in California, and 41 percent of California consumers say the California-grown designation is more important to them today than it was a year earlier.

When Californians buy California-grown food, it benefits the environment and ensures a higher level of food safety and food-safety standards. Farmers and ranchers certainly understand how strictly the state regulates food producers for the benefit of consumers. California-grown produce, livestock, milk, fish, flowers, nursery products and wine are produced under the strictest safety and quality-assurance standards of any state in the nation—or the world.

Buying California-grown food helps ensure that family farmers will maintain their historical production systems and the valuable land that grows crops and sustains livestock.

In a time of economic distress for our state, the support of California-grown products will help to keep critical dollars within the state for the benefit of all Californians. That, in turn, will strengthen the state's communities, economies and businesses. By purchasing locally produced foods, consumers will boost local businesses and that, in turn, helps local and state governments through increased tax revenues.

For all those reasons, we have introduced a resolution in the state Assembly—Assembly Concurrent Resolution 42—promoting the purchasing of California-grown products. Families, restaurants and grocers should be encouraged to buy California-grown foods, because supporting California-grown food products will result in higher food quality, improved food safety, higher environmental and animal-welfare standards, as well as significant economic benefits.

And restricting oneself to California-grown food hardly represents a sacrifice. After all, California farmers and ranchers grow more than 300 food products, including livestock, poultry and seafood, produce, grains, dairy products and wine valued at nearly $35 billion a year.

Once Californians find out how easy it is to buy California-grown foods and how plentiful, healthful and affordable they are, we are confident that families will want to "Eat Local, Buy California Grown" each and every day of the year.

Find out more about the Eat Local, Buy California Grown project at www.facebook.com/Eatlocalbuycaliforniagrown.

(Assembly Member Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, represents the 12th Assembly District, serves as speaker pro tempore of the Assembly and serves on the Committee on Agriculture. Assembly Member Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston, represents the 17th Assembly District and chairs the Assembly Committee on Agriculture.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.




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