Eating locally isn’t just a trendy, healthy way too cook – it’s also California’s newest strategy to bolster the State budget.
If Californians pledged to eat all locally grown foods one day each week, the move would generate a $15.6 billion economic impact each year, say sponsors of a new resolution before the State Legislature which would encourage the practice.
The “Eat Local, Buy California Grown” resolution, drafted by Assembly members Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) and Cathleen Galgiani (D-Merced), chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, was introduced by Galgiani and State Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) during Wednesday’s California Ag Day at the Capitol.
A need for the resolution exists, lawmakers said, as California leads the nation in agricultural production, but demand is shrinking. The industry accounts for nearly $35 billion in annual revenue and tens of thousands of jobs, but has experienced a 9 percent drop in sales since 2009.
That decline is, in large part, attributable to out-of-state agricultural goods entering California’s grocery stores. According to a California Poultry Federation report, $230 million leaves the state each year in chicken sales alone, headed to out-of-state poultry producers.
“We’ve always said it’s important not to be fooled by imposter chicken from out of state,” said Ira Brill, director of Marketing and Advertising Services for Foster Farms who represented the poultry industry at the state event. “But now, more than ever, it’s important for us to band together and support our California-grown neighbors. With the budget deficit as it is in California, we need to keep hardworking Californians’ money in the state – for the good of all Californians,” added Brill.
The Legislature as a whole has yet to approve the idea of a weekly “Eat Local, Buy California Grown Day,” but the resolution has received the support of nearly 20 commodity and crop boards, from the California Sheep Commission to the California Association of Wheat Growers and the California Sea Urchin Commission.
Already, Californians are supporting the movement, with nearly 73 percent of state residents stating they would be willing to prepare meals made only from California-grown ingredients, according to a new opinion study commissioned by Foster Farms. The same study shows 85 percent of California consumers find it is important to purchase foods “Grown in California.”
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