Locally grown food makes up about 20 percent of food purchased for at-home consumption in Florida, according to a recent University of Florida study.
The statewide survey showed Florida’s local food purchases trump most states, where local food purchases account for about 5 percent of food sales.
Florida could eventually have up to 50 percent of food supply be locally grown, said Alan Hodges, a scientist with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The survey showed 53 percent of people buy locally grown food from stores, but farmers’ roadside stands are seeing an increase in customers as well.
Roy Brown, owner of Brown’s Farm, said he attributes the increase to people having a greater interest in knowing the source of their food.
People ask Brown what certain foods taste like and how to prepare them, and he believes the younger generation is becoming more well-informed about the quality and freshness of locally grown produce.
Increased advertising and communications could also account for the increase in locally-grown food purchases, Brown said.
“Twenty years ago, it would cost quite a bit of money to advertise in local papers,” Brown said. The Internet makes it easier to reach out to customers instantly regarding food and farm services, he said.
As for the future of locally grown foods across the country, Hodges said he believes that the increase in people consuming local food will continue, possibly making the United States healthier.
Still, Hodges recognizes that no single region can grow all food needed for its area, so there will always be some need for non-locally grown food.
Leila Milgrim wrote this story online.