Skip to content

Food By Relationship

June 26, 2010

by Christine Fillmore and Paige Hansen

Food travels an average of 1,500 miles from the farm to your fridge. It can take up to two weeks for harvested food to reach your dinner table. During the delay sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality. For this reason and others, more people are buying local. Mark Manken owns Missouri Legacy Beef in Salisbury and sells his product at the Columbia Farmers Market.

“Just speaking from market point of view, it seems that our consumer right now is really valuing local as the most valued part of the food business, and of course I think that leads right into the green factor and they are concerned about the carbon emissions,” Manken said.

Photo by Christine Fillmore

Jeremy Maxwell is a regular customer at the Columbia Farmer’s Market. Maxwell drives nearly 30 miles to buy local beef from Manken.

“It’s worth the drive and it’s worth maybe a little extra to know that we’re getting something that’s not tainted.”

There is no generally accepted definition of “local” food. Most people will agree local means the food is sold directly from farmer to consumer. Local is also sometimes defined based on the number of miles the food travels. According to the definition adopted by the U.S. Congress in the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, the total distance that a product can be transported and still be considered a “locally or regionally produced agricultural food product” is less than 400 miles from its origin, or within the State it is produced. Columbia Farmers’ Market manager, Caroline Todd, said different organizations have different definitions. To sell products at the Columbia Farmers Market vendors must produce their food within 55 miles of harvest. For Maxwell, buying local isn’t only about the distance; it’s also about the relationship.

“I know Mark personally so I know what’s going into the product and it’s natural,” Maxwell said.

Farmers also understand the importance of relationships. Manken said he believes in transparency and trust between the producer and consumer.

Click on the Graphic to Find a Farmer's Market Near You

“There’s a relationship there and that goes back to the way it was done 50 or 80 or 100 years ago when my grandfather was taking care of the local neighbors with his beef that he’d produced. I think that’s the way it should be, food should be relational.”

When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a connection between the eater and the grower. This gives Maxwell a level of comfort.

“The food industry is a lot different these days and so I just would rather have something that’s [getting] a little more care and know that I’ll be alright with it going in my body without pesticides and hormones and drugs that weren’t made to go in my body,” Maxwell said.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: