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Erik Curren: Local food will change your life

foodChange your life? Really? If you think that food is food is food, that might sound like hype. Does it really matter whether your eggs came from California via a grocery store or from the Shenandoah Valley via a local farmer?

But to the growing numbers of eaters who’ve become fans of local produce, meat, dairy — and yes, eggs — for their freshness, good taste and superior nutrition, local food is a big deal.

We all eat food. But wearing other hats, lots of us also see the value of local food to our area.

In today’s economy, businesspeople see local food as a way to create jobs and economic opportunity, by helping to keep millions of dollars in food spending from “leaking out” of our area.

In the face of America’s frightening obesity epidemic and the toll it exacts on our families through such nutrition-related conditions as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, health professionals urge us all to eat more fresh, healthy food. And no food is fresher than local food.

And facing pollution that threatens our precious air and water resources, conservationists tell us that local, organic food and family farming is one of the best ways to preserve the outstanding quality of life we enjoy in the Shenandoah Valley.

To help Staunton citizens gain all these benefits, this summer City Council authorized me to convene our city’s Food Policy Task Force. The goal is simple — to make fresh, healthy local food more widely available to all Stauntonians, regardless of income.

Our group, composed of about a dozen leaders from across our community, has been busy getting the lay of the land by looking out for barriers to local food and then considering the best ways to remove those barriers.


Talk with us about food in February

Now, the task force is ready to open up the discussion. We want to let the public know what we’re up to. And we want to hear what citizens have to say.

Are you a local foodie or do you think that food is food is food? Do you shop at the farmer’s market every week or do you try to rack up as many points as you can at the grocery store?  Are you a home chef who puts time into trying out new recipes on the kids or are you lucky to find time to get a reheat-n-eat dinner on the table after you get home from work?

Whatever your interest in food, if you eat the stuff, we want to hear from you. So we hope you’ll join one of the two citizen discussions we’ve scheduled in February:

Tuesday, February 12 at 7:00 pm
Staunton Public Library
1 Churchville Avenue, (540) 332-3902 [click for map]

Wednesday, February 20 at 7:30 pm
Booker T. Washington Community Center
1114 West Johnson Street, (540) 885-1899 [click for map]

Our task force members love local democracy as much as they love local food, so they’re eager to bat around ideas with you to help everybody in Staunton enjoy more good food. And I can promise you that these meetings will be lively and thought provoking.

I hope you’ll join us!

– Column by Erik Curren, Staunton City Councilman. This post originally appeared at

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