Although Gila Valley boasts an impressive variety of local agricultural growers and food producers across the region, COVID-19 shined a spotlight on our vulnerable food system. By obtaining quantitative data on consumer buying patterns, hunger and food access gaps, and marketplace access/interest in healthy produce and locally sourced products, organizations in our community will be better positioned to address this vulnerability and ensure the Gila Valley has sustainable, reliable access to food.
Local First AZ has partnered with the NAU W.A. Franke College of Business and Economic Policy Institute and United Way of Graham & Greenlee Counties on a research study that will gather market data on a Food Security study for Graham, Greenlee County, and the San Carlos Apache Nation. This data will be used to guide the additional phases of this project, and will be provided to Food Coalition partners like the Graham and Greenlee County Health Departments, food pantries, Farmer’s Markets, and other food stakeholders in these communities.
Traveling a shorter distance from the farm to your plate, local food is tastier because it is allowed to ripen on the vine or because it was recently made with whole ingredients and lots of care.
LOCAL FOOD is healthy.
Because it’s not processed like food traveling long distances, local food packs more nutrition and has less additives, preservatives, and other chemicals.
LOCAL FOOD is accessible.
Local food purchased in season and directly from a producer through CSAs, farmers markets, or cooperatives can be less expensive than its out-of-state counterparts. If it’s on sale locally, you know it’s in season and at the peak of ripeness.
LOCAL FOOD supports local farmers and entrepreneurs.
If every Graham County resident spent just $10 on local food every month, that would be an additional $4,660,000 for our local farmers and local economy! Every million dollars spent on local food supports an average of 32 jobs right here in the community.
LOCAL FOOD is good for the environment.
Local agriculture builds healthy soils, which increases carbon dioxide removal leading to cleaner air. In fact, eating local is one of the single most impactful choices you can make to reduce your individual carbon footprint.