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Why you should look for Grown Local

grown local fb page
By Stephanie Christofferson,
Summer Intern with Grown Local Marin

Grown Local is a collaborative community initiative that seeks to unite local producers and consumers. Not only does Grown Local support local businesses and agricultural producers, it helps consumers navigate the increasingly confusing world of grocery shopping by clarifying which foods and products are locally grown and produced. Buying and eating local is not only good for your health, as it provides you with the knowledge that your food comes from a known and sustainable source, but it puts money back into your community and helps reduce environmental degradation of imported products.

Grown Local is committed to fostering a healthy, sustainable community, and the benefits go far beyond economics and environment. Our world is changing rapidly; market forces and the proliferation of new technologies often strain our delicate food system and threaten to replace local producers with corporate industrial ones. We as community members have a responsibility and a unique power to combat these detrimental forces and take back our food. Grown Local’s yellow signs at farmer’s markets guide you towards making a difference in keeping our local food system alive.

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Grown Local is not pioneering a new idea; we are simply organizing and bringing together a commonly felt sentiment in Marin County. Producers and consumers alike feel compelled to support local foods, something that has been inherent to Marin County for decades. In their own words, the members of Grown Local explain why buying local is so important.

“There is a movement. In this little round yellow sign there are huge existential questions about who we are and how we want to live.” Janet of Allstar Organics, a Marin-based producer and Grown Local member, passionately believes in the locally-based initiative. For her, supporting local farms and keeping money circulating in the community is key, but the social aspect is just as important. As she puts it, “the community that can feed itself” is proliferated by a concerted effort to keep local farms not just operational, but integrated socially in the community. Feeding your neighbor not only provides food, but creates a more sustainable food system bound by social ties that are often stronger than economic ones.

When it comes to environmentalism, Janet is clear on her stance: “I think exporting food is full of problems, one being that we have a lot of hungry people in the U.S., so how is it morally defensible to send food out? When you export food, you export resources: carbon and water, really the whole future of the food system. When you take it out, you’re supposed to put that back. You’re using up non-renewable resources (fuel, water) to export renewable resources (food).”

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Environmentalism in terms of resources is one of the big problems that Grown Local seeks to combat. But another is the treatment of the animals. The simple truth is that transporting animals long distances is detrimental and even cruel, something that Stemple Creek Ranch understands all too well. Josh of Stemple Creek Ranch explains, “Our transportation of cattle from the ranch to the slaughterhouse to the butcher is within a 15 mile radius. This is easy on the animals, as it keeps them calm - you don’t want to transport cattle very far at all. That’s why we love it, we are fortunate.” Less fuel and less stress for the animals means a more sustainable and higher quality product. Buying locally-sourced meat cuts down on fuel use, and also ensures a happier animal. Julie Rosotti of Rosotti Ranch explains another benefit of buying local meat - it’s just not possible to buy the same thing commercially. “You can’t buy goat commercially in the grocery store. Veal is raised differently, you won’t find pasture raised veal. There’s really no comparison, because you can’t easily find anything like it.” Grown Local meat producers provide something unique, that you really can’t get anywhere else. What’s more, getting meat directly from the producer gives you a unique opportunity to speak with the people who know best about how to prepare and cook it, an example of how Grown Local facilitates the flow of knowledge and ideas as well as economics.

There is a deep emotional vein running through Grown Local. This is our community. These people are our neighbors and friends. Supporting them means sustaining legacies and livelihoods, preserving tradition and fostering a happier, healthier community. As Kitty of Dolcini Red Hill Ranch puts it, “If people don’t support local farms, they’re going to go away.”

Behind each producer is a unique history tied to Marin County’s own history, something that a corporate industrial brand can never replicate. For instance, artisan cheese is big in Marin County’s dairy-rich history. Supporting these small-scale cheese makers means keeping Marin’s legacy of dairy alive, a relic of the first settlers in the area. While the financial and environmental benefits are clear, it is these social, emotional, and symbolic benefits that drive the movement and give it life and vibrancy. Grown Local is the future of our food.
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