Montanans gear up for Local Food Challenge | TSLN.com

Montanans gear up for Local Food Challenge

​To encourage the production and consumption of local foods, Northern Plains Resource Council is hosting the first annual, statewide Montana Local Food Challenge beginning July 1.

Throughout July, individuals, businesses, and families will challenge their eating and shopping habits by committing to eat more Montana-grown foods. Whether eating or shopping at more restaurants and grocers that serve local food, growing your own garden, spending more dollars per month on local food, joining a CSA (consumer supported agriculture), or asking school and hospital boards to use more local foods, there is something for everyone.

Whether a Costco-only family, college student on a tight budget, or die-hard locavore, eating local brings myriad benefits:

· Fresher, more nutritious, better-tasting food;

· Builds communities and local economies;

· Supports family farms and ranches;

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· Protects genetic diversity and regional food security.

"Montana has such a rich agricultural history, so it has never quite made sense that a major portion of our produce, grains, and meat leaves the state to be processed," said Jean Lemire Dahlman, a Northern Plains member and family farm/ranch owner in Rosebud County. "The Montana Local Food Challenge gives people an opportunity to play a role in supporting our local family farms and ranches, building community, and bolstering our economy.

"Consumers are increasingly asking for local foods over the last several years. They know it makes for fresh, delicious meals and healthy families. We are also beginning to see more young producers return to agriculture with a vision for markets independent of the current corporate system. We see the value of this homegrown food at our own kitchen tables and kids' schools. The Montana Local Food Challenge is a great opportunity to help build this conversation, especially in eastern Montana."

Anyone is invited to participate! Go to MTlocalfoodchallenge.org to take the challenge and start working toward a better Montana today. The website gives helpful resources, such as where to eat and grocery shop locally, where to buy local ingredients, and why it matters. Paper forms are available from Maggie@northernplains.org for those without computer or internet access, or call 406-248-1154.

–Northern Plains Resource Council