Thursday, November 15, 2007

Locally Grown Foods Top Food Trends

More Americans are cooking and eating meals at home and fresh, locally produced foods are becoming more popular, according to a list of 2007's top 10 food trends in a past issue of Food Technology magazine.

Among the trends:
  • Economic pressures are among the factors pushing Americans to prepare and eat more meals at home.
  • Word-of-mouth is a key factor in the success of new food products and celebrity chefs are encouraging more adventuresome cooking.
  • Reducing the number of steps in food preparation is a major way to increase sales of food products.
  • Texture, crispness and crunch are important.
  • Products free of undesirable ingredients are viewed favorably by consumers.
  • Fresh is the most desirable attribute in food and foods marketed as local, seasonal, hand-made, and natural are increasingly popular.
  • Food purchases are greatly influenced by shoppers' desire to lower their risk of developing health problems.

Locally Grown Foods
As people seek fresher foods, they have begun to connect with local family farms. Community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers' markets give consumers direct access to produce, meats, cheeses, breads, honey, and other foods that are produced in nearby communities. In the past 10 years, the number of local farmers' markets has more than doubled -- it is up from 1,755 to 3,706, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service.

Because they are so fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables often have a nutritional edge over produce raised on "factory" farms. The latter, which constitutes most of the produce grown in the United States, is picked about four to seven days before it arrives on supermarket shelves, and shipped for an average of 1,500 miles before it's sold, according to Local Harvest, a nonprofit agricultural research group. All that downtime takes a toll. USDA researchers have found that if it's not handled properly, produce can lose up to half its nutrients in transit. Water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin C are particularly vulnerable.

2 comments:

Jeremy Myers said...

How do you get started in a CSA program? I dont know if I have the land now for it...but I would like to know what the process is so that I can do it in the near future.

Missouri Department of Agriculture said...

Jeremy,

Here is a great link to find out as much info about CSA's as you want.

http://agebb.missouri.edu/mac/links/index.htm