For a state with a $1 billion-plus agricultural industry, it's surprising that it's only been the past few years that Idahoans have begun to turn up our noses at industrialized, commercial food production and started talking about the importance of consuming locally produced food.
It became such a widespread issue that in 2010, the House passed HCR 59, a resolution to "support the consumption of Idaho-grown foods and encourage Idahoans to celebrate and get to know their growers and to purchase and consume more food produced in or near Idaho."
The word "celebrate" rang especially true for Meadowlark Farm owner Janie Burns, who co-founded the grassroots project the Year of Idaho Food. YOIF hopes to bring about a better awareness of not only what we eat and where we get it but also of the economic, social and environmental effects of eating food produced in Idaho.
The House had already jumped on the YOIF bandwagon--and actually jump-started it--and the Senate didn't want to be left out. SCR 103 was passed earlier this month, and it takes the whole thing a step further by giving Year of Idaho Food its own special day: Monday, Sept. 5, 2011 (Labor Day), will be known as the Day of Idaho Food.
Burns said organizers wanted one day because a whole year "sounds so onerous." Even people who felt they couldn't commit to an entire year of eating locally sourced food could realistically, for one day, eat something grown in Idaho.
"We chose Labor Day simply because things are growing then," Burns said. "And presumably, everyone in the entire state could have something from their garden or a local farm."
The goal of the Senate's resolution is to "encourage the use of information gathered during the Year of Idaho Food in furtherance of policy development to increase production, distribution and consumption of Idaho-grown food in the state of Idaho."
YOIF's goal for Day of Idaho Food is much simpler. All organizers want is for each person in the state of Idaho to "have at least one thing on their plate from the state."
And YOIF will launch a website where people can tell the rest of the state what they're eating that day. Burns is hoping to get some of Idaho's most famous residents to participate.
But it's even simpler than that, Burns explained. You don't have to grow anything or know anyone who does.
"Even if on that day you go to Albertsons and buy an apple from Idaho, you have made the intentional choice to buy food from Idaho."