In 2010, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) teamed up with the NC Cooperative Extension at North Carolina A&T State University and the North Carolina State University to launch the NC 10% Campaign to encourage individuals and businesses to make locally grown, caught and produced foods 10% of their food budget. Over $35B is spent on food annually by North Carolinians meaning a whopping $3.5B would stay in state to support local farmers, fishermen and food producers if the campaign was adopted universally.
North Carolina has an embarrassment of food producing resources in the form of abundant sunshine, rainfall, land and coastal waters for seafood. The campaign produced this wonderful seasonality chart that highlights just how bountiful our state is. Designating 10% of food dollars to stay in state and supporting our local food producers couldn’t be easier or more delicious! For North Carolinians, eating seasonally means eating fresher more nutritious food, enjoying a greater variety in our diets and eating locally means reducing the carbon footprint of each meal in terms of the energy needed to transport temperature controlled food long distances across the country or globe.
The 10% goal may seem to be a rather low bar for those that already support local food producers with a significant percentage of their food dollars, but it is the low threshold that makes it possible to be accepted and adopted by a larger proportion of North Carolinians thereby making a bigger difference in the lives of our food producers, our state economy, the sustainability of our food system.
Thinking about this challenge reminded me of the Starfish Story*
A man was walking along a beach and as he walked he could see a young boy in the distance. The boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. As the man drew closer he saw that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and was throwing them back into the water. The man asked the boy what he was doing, and the boy replied, “I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die.” “But you can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”, said the man. The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied, “I made a difference to that one.”
If you want to make a difference too, visit the NC 10% Campaign Partners Page to find restaurants, grocery stores, you pick farms and farmers working with the program to make North Carolina an even better place to eat.
*The Starfish Story has made the rounds over the decades and been adapted many times.