Farm to Fork tour of Skaneateles Watershed

"Local Food" is a term that has been used to describe foods which are produced, processed and consumed within the same region. The Local Food movement has been an effort by many farms, community groups and households to understand how and where their food is produced and how it gets onto their plates or, "Farm to Fork". The awareness generated by the Local Food movement has helped farmers get their products into their own communities and has helped consumers and markets find the fresh food produced by local farms.

Having food that is fresh, good tasting and healthful is important to everyone. The practices a farmer uses to raise cattle or grow corn, for example, influence the quality and taste of the food produced. To know your local farmer, is to know the quality of your food. The path food traditionally takes before it reaches your plate may be a long and winding road -- using fuel and energy all along the way and creating pollution every mile it travels. The longer it takes for food to reach your plate, the greater the chance that the food will lose nutrient value, will have been exposed to poor food handling practices or contamination, and will have accrued many shipping miles (and the accompanying fuel and pollution that comes with it). With so many misconceptions about food labeling and food production, there is no better way to make certain your food is up to your standards than to have a one-on-one relationship with your food producer. Building this relationship between producers and consumers is one of the many benefits of eating locally.

Supporting local farms also helps to stimulate the local economy. Farm products (e.g., vegetables, dairy, grains, meats, etc.) purchased locally put money directly into the local economy through the farmer, secondary processors and markets. The economic benefits of a local food system can be increased when farmers create value-added products, such as salsa from tomatoes and peppers, or goat cheese from goat's milk. Consequently, more jobs may be created and tax revenues will go toward your local economy instead of a distant processors economy.

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