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People Are Looking For Locally Sourced Food

People Are Looking For Locally Sourced Food

People Are Looking For Locally Sourced Food

"Knowing where your food comes from" has long been a value held closely by those who buy local foods. Since late March, for man consumers, a lot of that food has been coming fro the digital marketplace. In this time period, nearly one-third of US households have ordered groceries or food online, about twice the number seen in late 2019, according to research from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. 

Meanwhile, as we aim to stay integrated within our communities while physically distanced, demand for local food has increased markedly int hat same time period. Trends in Google searches indicate that consumers in North Carolina have been searching for far more CSAs, local farms, local food, and produce boxes. 

Features inherent to local food sourcing, including a short supply chain and low-contact pickups, have generated new interest in direct-to-consumer sales. Despite decreases in sales to restaurants (which may slowly bounce back as North Carolina continues into Phase 3 of its gradual economic reopening), many smaller farms are reporting as much as a doubling of interest in CSA boxes and preordered sales at farmers markets. 

With people shopping online for groceries more frequently, farmers have been pushed to adapt to this digital marketplace to broaden customer access. In may cases, the appeal of local agriculture has been the relationships people build with farmers in physical spaces: farm stands, farmers markets, event directly on the farm. Thus, an online presence was not always a given pre-pandemic. 

Thankfully, local agriculture in many cases has shown itself to be nimble, adaptable, and most importantly, interested in gaining traction in digital spaces. In an article with Civil Eats, Hannah Dankbar of NCSU's Cooperative Extension pointed to their two webinars on putting farm products online, both of which drew more than 300 attendees. 

Meanwhile, virtual tools to connect growers to individual consumers have proliferated nationwide. Some act as a virtual marketplace, while others act as a resource to show consumers where to find nearby farms, like the Visit NC Farms app sponsored by N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and expanding statewide now. 

Ultimately, these tools are providing support to agribusinesses in online sales and online marketing. Each tool is a major piece in helping the local food system adapt to a COVID-19 economy. The hope? That with enough support, farm-fresh food keeps pace with the rapid growth in interests in both local foods and online grocery shopping. 

The Foothills Food Hub works with local farmers to provide free food to those in need at several locations throughout McDowell County. Visit their Website

Visit our local farms to learn more about what's available in McDowell County. 

*Information provided by the NC Department of Agriculture

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