Awareness of local and regional food producers gives consumers the opportunity to eat better and farmers a chance to feed their families. Local communities and their economies also benefit when consumers support their hometown food systems.
The USDA seeks to support these systems through its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. Having launched the program in 2009, it released its first Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass — an information repository paired with an interactive map for searching local food producers — earlier this year. This week, the USDA launched version 2.0 of the site which includes new case studies, new data for the locations of farmers markets, food hubs, and meat processing facilities, and enhanced search capabilities.
The Compass provides a wealth of literature on the value of local and regional food systems and agriculture in general. You can learn from helpful reports and case studies related to topics like the Local Food Infrastructure, Farm to Institution Initiatives, and Careers in Agriculture. The Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass Interactive Map provides a geographical view of food producers, farmers markets, and food hubs, along with a number of other food system constituents.
The site and its teachings offer a lot, but the USDA can do more. It desperately needs to improve the usability of its interactive map, but the investment in our local food systems does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. If you want to learn more about the importance of local and regional food producers and get to know the real people growing your food, take a little time to check out the Compass.
Get to know your farmers. You’ll be glad you did.