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Eating local hard to practice

Brief by Allen Best

Food – January 2007 – Colorado Central Magazine

Environmentalists for several years have been arguing the virtues of consuming food that is grown locally instead of being hauled 1,600 miles -the average distance between producers and consumers in the United States. But a project underway in Durango illustrates just how difficult that concept of think global, eat local can be when applied to fast-growing, high-elevation mountain valleys choked by mountains.

“We’ve heard over and over from consumers, restaurants, and schools that they want more local food,” said Katyi Pepinsky, of a group called Growing Partners. “Unfortunately, there just isn’t the supply to keep up with that demand.”

Part of the problem, explains the Durango Telegraph, is that so much of the food produced in the Durango region is shipped elsewhere. Range-fed cattle, for example, are hauled to eastern Colorado and Kansas, where they are fattened on corn in feedlots and then slaughtered in huge beef-packing plants. But rising land costs, caused by the steady population growth in semi-rural exurban areas, is cutting into agriculture production.

Aside from a lot of brainstorming and paper-generating, the project seems to have yielded few concrete ideas, although Jim Dyer, of the Southwest Marketing Network, believes it has set the stage for enhancing local food production. The project is being funded by a $50,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.