Sunday, May 17, 2020

Survey: People are buying more local food during pandemic

Vegetables at a Farmers marketOne thing is sure: all of us have learned that the world can change overnight. So far, supply chains within the global food system have not been totally disrupted. Hopefully they won’t be. But food resiliency means a community has farms growing food on the soil surrounding community members. If supply chains break, your neighboring farms are growing food nearby. But in order for community farms to survive, they can’t be a last resort. Community members have to see the value in knowing that security is there, every day, and support it… or farms don’t survive.

Many people have been thinking about food differently during this unprecedented pandemic. Going out to get food means something different than it did mere weeks ago. We’re wondering where our food came from and how many people touched it before us. Or we don’t want to go out to get it at all…

So, like magic, local farm and food businesses in the Adirondacks have responded rapidly in innovative ways to feed the community. Local farmers’ markets, farmstands, cooked meal deliveries, and other local food vendors are noticing amazing support from the community. Adirondack Harvest wanted to understand more about the relationship of local food to the community during this unusual time. Here’s what you told us!

Survey Results

162 people responded to the survey. Here are some key take-aways:

An amazing 93% of you said you are a long-time supporter of local food. We wanted to know how many of you were new to buying local because of COVID-19, which did apply to a few people. But two thirds of people who responded said they are buying MORE local food than before because of COVID-19. Many stated the reason being a higher confidence in the safety of the food, or they go to a local vendor in order to stay closer to home. An even greater number of people shared they have decided to purchase more local food because they want to support local businesses.

Indeed! We asked people to tell us how they felt about this statement: “I buy local because I want to strengthen the local economy by supporting small businesses which create jobs, generate revenue, and create sustainable, positive growth. When I keep my money in the local economy, I help create a stronger community through the multiplier effect.” An inspiring 91% of you strongly agreed with this statement! And another 7% hadn’t thought about it before, but agreed.

Cheese cave at Sugar House Creamery. Sugar House has a farmstore and also hosts
the Snowy Grocery Farmers’ Market. Photo by Lisa Godfrey,

But that isn’t the only reason people stated they buy local; 87% shared they feel it’s fresher and longer lasting. 67% that it’s “much more delicious”. 49% like that there are more unique options to choose from. I enjoyed that one person said it’s “harmonious with the seasons.”

We asked people to tell us where they are buying local food (people could choose all that applied to them). 50% of people buy food at farmers’ markets. 25% at farm pick-ups, farmstands, and CSAs. 20% at co-ops. 13%, or 21 people, received home deliveries. Many people took the opportunity to list their very favorite way to get local food, naming specific businesses, like ADK Purveyors, Dogwood Bakery, Nori’s, Green Goddess, Ernie’s, The Hub on the Hill, Snowy Grocery, and the egg stand near their home.

About 70% of people said they are cooking more because of COVID-19; 20% of these people are cooking 12 or more meals a week than previously! No wonder, then, that over half of people requested recipes geared toward cooking seasonally and locally, and many people requested we address this topic in our newsletter.

Finally, we were curious to parse out exactly why local food support is higher than usual this year. The other questions addressed whether there may be more local buying due to concerns for health and travel, or desire to support the local economy during a crisis— all of which appears to be the case. We were also wondering if the seasonal residents that often support local during the summer may be visiting and supporting now. According to the survey results, 88% of people are full-time residents. If that’s the case, we have seen a very large increase in spending on local food for this time of year, which is an incredible statement for a community understanding the importance of food security and resiliency.

For more information on how you can buy local food during the COVID-19 pandemic, see our resource page here.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Adirondack Harvest’s newsletter. Sign up here:

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3 Responses

  1. John Davis says:

    Good work, Adirondack Harvest and local farmers! Adirondack Park will be an even more successful model if we residents and visitors buy locally and are willing to pay a little extra for food that is produced in ecologically sustainable and wildlife-friendly ways. We should also support work by land trusts and farmers to protect agricultural lands with conservation easements.
    John Davis, Adirondack Park resident

    • AG says:

      Yes – cost and availability have been the issue. But local food is almost always better tasting and even more nutritious. Foods shipped from far usually are reaped too early which affects taste and nutrients.

  2. Suzanne says:

    The Sunday Keene Valley farmers’ market is something I look forward to with great anticipation every summer.

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