University Park, PENNSYLVANIA, posted January
27, 2005: Buying locally grown food can mean
fresher products and support for the local economy.
With that in mind, students in one class at Penn State
spent last fall gauging the interest of area restaurants
in purchasing food locally, their familiarity with an
initiative known as "Buy Fresh Buy Local,"
and their propensity to do just that.
ten requests to ease buying local
Restaurateur expressed interest in increasing
their purchases of locally grown products
but expressed concern with lack of selection
possibly due to seasonality, quantity or
volume issues, higher prices, lack of reliability,
fewer delivery options, safety regulations,
lack of standards, lack of consistency and
fewer payment options as precieved disadvantages.
When asked what would make buying locally
easier, responses included:
a website of local product availability,
weekly price list,
good representative that is knowledgeable
about local products and availability,
local foods consumer guide,
and quality assurance
a local co-op,
access with prices and products and
billing options such as a 10-15 day payment
period with invoice.
Students -- a mix of undergraduates and graduates --
in Nutrition/Science, Technology & Society 497G:
Community Food Security spent the latter part of the
Fall 2004 semester working on and conducting a survey
of restaurants in the Centre Region, gauging their interest
and involvement in buying locally produced food. A national
initiative guided by Food Routes of Mill Hall, Pa.,
and at the state level by the Pennsylvania Association
for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), "Buy Fresh,
Buy Local," strives to create a widely recognizable
brand name for identifying locally grown food and encouraging
consumers to support area producers.
"Basically, we hoped to gain a better understanding
of where the food served in these restaurants originated
and what restaurant owners, managers or chefs considered
when purchasing," said Dru Montri, a graduate student
in horticulture. "We also were looking to determine
what those involved in the restaurant industry believed
were the advantages and disadvantages of buying locally
and what could be done to make the process easier for
them. The final component was to assess the industry's
awareness and acceptance of the Centre County 'Buy Fresh
Buy Local' campaign."
The 10 students in the class surveyed a total of 24
area restaurants, which ranged from 300 to 9000 patrons
served per week, entrée costs of two dollars
to 32 dollars and a wide sampling of cuisines. The class
found that 13 of the establishments surveyed currently
purchase some local product, and six more occasionally
In the process, the class found that 15 of the eateries
surveyed were interested in taking part in "Buy
Fresh, Buy Local," and nine of the establishments
would be willing to pay extra for locally grown food.
The survey also identified ways in which locally grown
food could be made more easily available for restaurants.
Montri has worked with the "Buy Fresh, Buy Local"
initiative since last summer, and she noted that the
findings of the class are a good starting point in encouraging
local food consumption in Centre County.
"Our work as a class has concluded," Montri
said. "Personally, I will continue to promote the
'Buy Fresh, Buy Local' campaign in Centre County. I
am currently working with PASA on membership and a Centre
County Local Foods Guide. The survey was a great beginning.
From here, I'll work on following-up with those restaurants
that are interested and getting in touch with those
we were unable to speak to."
The course is in its second year and is taught by Dorothy
Blair, assistant professor of nutrition, with students
studying nutrition in the College of Health and Human
Development and horticulture and agricultural sciences
in the College of Agriculture.
Blair said the course examined alternative ways to
bring food security to communities, beyond the standard
governmental and food bank giveaways. Before surveying
area restaurants to gauge interest and feasibility in
the "Buy Fresh, Buy Local," initiative, Blair
had her class take a close look at community food security
programs in Pennsylvania and around the country.
"There are hundreds of programs now happening
in the U.S. that fall under this theme," Blair
said. "We visited Philadelphia for two days in
the early fall, looking at their innovative projects,
and also examine what is happening locally in Centre
The idea of community food security, Blair explained,
incorporates a number of available resources to provide
products to community members from local producers.
"Community food security usually focuses on promoting
local ag production and local consumption through community
gardens, urban agriculture, child through youth and
adult food education, cooking skills, and food entrepreneurship,
ways to bring people cheaper food that involve their
efforts, food coops and local economic stimulation through
food projects," Blair said. "Philadelphia
has taken a lead role in this, as have many urban areas."
In State College, the class found a number of opportunities
for community food security, including a new 87-plot
community garden at Tudek Park, Community Supported
Agriculture, farmers' markets, and gardens at local
schools which get students thinking about food as something
in which they can get involved, Blair said.
For area restaurants, the survey discovered that even
if it meant an increase in price, restaurant owners
and managers would like to acquire some of their food
from local producers. Respondents said among ways the
process of buying local could be made easy would be
centralized information on product availability and
prices, a representative knowledgeable on local products
and availability and alternative billing options.
"We were able to identify a list of 10 ideas that
would make buying locally easier for restaurants,"
Montri said. "This is the type of information we
hope others will use to continue to work for this cause."