Senator Vitelli and Representative Dill and members of the Agricultural, Conservation, and Forestry Committee. I’m Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and I’m speaking in favor of LD 1431: An Act to Support School Nutrition and Expand the Local Foods Economy
This bill creates food hubs, which addresses the previously identified logistical difficulties of getting local foods to the institutional food service market. It also incentivizes training and network building and rewards school food service personnel who champion the effort and succeed.
The environmental problems caused by our current system of food transport from all over the globe are well documented. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, today, the typical American prepared meal contains, on average, ingredients from at least five countries outside the United States (i). Addressing just the carbon emissions from transporting food on trucks and planes to Maine is a key reason why NRCM supports this bill.
Local food is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food. Food imported from far away is older and has traveled on trucks or planes, and sat in warehouses before it gets to you.
Local food preserves open space. When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they’re less likely to sell farmland for development. When we buy locally grown food, we’re doing something proactive to preserve our working landscape. That landscape is an essential ingredient to other economic activity in the state, such as tourism and recreation.
Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, we are helping to ensure that there will be farms in our community tomorrow. That is a matter of importance for food security, especially in light of an uncertain energy future and our current reliance on fossil fuels to produce, package, distribute and store food.
NRCM would rather see Maine people paying Maine farmers through the taxes and other programs that keep our children fed through the school lunch program. Keeping our hard earned dollars circulating in Maine helps our economy.
By choosing local produce, we can reduce fuel consumption and global warming pollution associated with transporting food, help lift our local agricultural communities, strengthen the local economy, and protect the environment all by eating fresher, tastier fruits and vegetables.
I urge your unanimous support for this bill and would be glad to answer any questions.
i. NRDC. 2007. Health Facts: Food miles: How far your food travels has serious consequences for your health and the climate http://food-hub.org/files/resources/Food%20Miles.pdf