Boulder County's EAT LOCAL! Resource Guide & Directory


The 10% Local Food Shift Challenge

If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast.”

Steven L. Hopf in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
by Barbara Kingsolver

In 2010, Transition Colorado will spearhead a “10% Local Food Shift” campaign as a catalyzing focus for our larger county-wide EAT LOCAL! Campaign.

Inspired by the “10% Shift” campaign for buying locally (“Build Strong Local Economies by Purchasing with Purpose”), originally developed by the New England Local Business Forum, we are planning a campaign to encourage local residents, restaurants and institutions to shift 10% of their food purchases to locally grown sources.

The impact of this shift could be considerable. According to a 2009 study by consultant Ken Meter (Crossroads Resource Center), “Boulder county consumers spend $662 million buying food each year, including $374 million for home use [and, by implication, roughly $288 million in restaurants]. Only $715,000 of food products (2% of farm cash receipts, and 0.1% of local consumer needs) are sold by farmers directly to consumers.”

Based on these numbers[1], we estimate that if Boulder County citizens would purchase only 10% of the food they need for home use directly from county farmers, this would produce $37 million of new annual farm income in Boulder County — an amount equivalent to more than all of the 2007 farm sales in the county. And if 10% of their restaurant purchases were shifted to local food, that would add another $29 million annually into the local food economy. This is but one indication that stimulating local food sales could significantly strengthen the local economy.

Our 10% Local Food Shift campaign will draw on the experience of various pioneering Eat Local Challenges, such as in Wisconsin, where residents are encouraged to spend 10 percent of their grocery budget on local food over a 10-day period to raise consumer awareness about the advantages of local food. In New Hampshire, efforts are underway to replace 10 percent of school cafeteria food with locally-grown produce.

Burlington (VT) economist Doug Hoffer estimated that if Vermont substituted local products for only 10 percent of the food imported to the state, it would result in $376 million in new economic output, including $69 million in personal earnings from 3,616 jobs.

Portland, Oregon’s EcoTrust provides an Eat Local Scorecard for citizens to track their food purchases and the amount they spend on food grown within a 100-mile radius.

In San Francisco, a group of “concerned culinary adventurers” who call themselves Locavores challenge people in the Bay Area to eat within a 100-mile radius of their home for the months of August (recently extended to September).

Additionally, many schools (including the Boulder Valley School District) are giving children experience with on-campus gardens. These approaches have far-reaching impacts: “A National Farmers’ Union survey undertaken as part of The Year of Food and Farming (UK) found that 93 percent of primary-aged children who are exposed to growing their own food start to change their eating habits. It follows that the same is true for adults engaging in community food projects.” –Rosie Boycott, Local Food: How to Make It Happen in Your Community (2009)

Campaign Strategies

Many of the specific details for our Boulder County 10% Local Food Shift campaign are currently being developed for implementation throughout 2010. However, some of the strategic elements of the campaign are already clear:

  • Promote a Boulder County 10% Local Food Shift Challenge, asking citizens to commit to devoting 10% of their grocery and/or restaurant purchases to local food within a selected time frame.
  • Develop a website where residents can sign up for the 10% Local Food Shift Pledge.
  • Work with local restaurants and grocers to develop 10% discount coupons for those who sign up for the 10% Local Food Shift Pledge.
  • Encourage people to reduce their meat consumption by 10 percent, replacing those calories with locally-grown produce.
  • Support the increased use of local food in school lunchrooms, as well as the adoption of on-campus gardens for student engagement.
  • Develop school educational programs (including speakers, films, field trips) that promote local food.
  • Encourage the particularly adventurous to explore growing 10 percent of their family food needs in their own gardens, learning how to can and preserve what they grow so they can eat it year-round.
  • Highlight local entrepreneurs who process food products within Boulder County.
  • Produce and sponsor community educational events and celebrations that feature local food and local agriculture.
  • Produce posters, flyers, coupons, and other promotional materials that growers, restaurants, and grocers can display and utilize at appropriate retail locations
  • Develop a Boulder County EAT LOCAL! Restaurant Association, with special progressive prix-fixe local dinner nights during a 10% Local Food Shift Week in September.

Of course, one of the main benefits of 10% Local Food Shift campaign is the promotion of local food and encouraging access to it. But this is much more than an awareness-raising exercise. Participants will also discover that eating locally leads them to a reconnection with the people and the places that produce their food, an interest in the stories attached to it, and an appreciation of their own cultural identity.

Experience shows that such a campaign will empower citizens to improve their health, cut down on their own energy footprints, discover the needs and opportunities within their local food networks, compare local food accessibility in different parts of the country, and prove that it is possible to eat well on a ‘locavore’ diet. All these efforts have the added benefit of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

2010 Campaign Goals

The 10% Local Food Shift envisions a strong and vibrant Boulder County food economy that promotes localized economic development and fosters sustainable and inclusive communities. Here are some preliminary goals for the campaign in 2010:

  • The Boulder County local food movement grows to include 10 percent of local restaurants and businesses, local nonprofit organizations, and local government agencies that have made a permanent commitment to local food procurement.
  • More than 10,000 individuals have signed the 10% Shift pledge.
  • Throughout Boulder County, the 10% Local Food Shift message is visible in digital and print media, in local businesses and on the web, and is widely understood to be a positive and personal strategy toward individual health, local economic independence and community resilience.
  • The 10% Local Food Shift empowers Boulder County residents to generate substantial economic activity, create meaningful and good-paying jobs, and build healthy communities.
  • The 10% Local Food Shift builds on Boulder County’s cultural and economic heritage, with a strong emphasis on self-reliance, local identity, and grassroots leadership.

[1] This study was mostly based on 2007 Agriculture Census data, which is the most recent data currently available.


4 Responses to “The 10% Local Food Shift Challenge”

  1. [...] But giving people the reasons and the sources isn’t enough. So we’re helping to provide some incentive, through a 10% Local Food Shift Challenge and Pledge. [...]

  2. [...] a 10% purchasing shift to local, independent businesses, Transition Colorado will spearhead a “10% Local Food Shift” campaign to encourage local residents, restaurants and institutions to shift 10% of their food [...]

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