The Farmer and the ... Economy? 

Let's start with newsy news this week.

Last week, BW foodie beat reporter Jennifer Hernandez posted this on Cobweb: About 98 percent of the food Idahoans eat is from outside sources. As in beyond-Idaho sources.

That's not exactly breaking news--Boise Weekly published an entire main feature story on Idaho's practice of exporting everything it raises to simply turn around and import most of what it takes to feed those who live here--but it's always good to shock the system with that staggering figure from time to time.

Hernandez offered up that factoid in her report on "Local Foods as Economic Recovery," a presentation delivered by sustainability nonprofit Crossroads Resource Institute's Ken Meter thanks to the work of the Treasure Valley Food Coalition.

More from Hernandez's report:

"Idaho is one of the nation's top producers of wheat, milk, cheese, onions, potatoes and dry beans. Nationally, according to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, we rank in the top 10 for production of 26 different crops and livestock. Yet most of that food leaves the state and we receive about 98 percent of the foods we consume here from outside sources. To the casual observer, our food chain appears to be running bass-ackwards.

"Meter pointed out that the current food production system removes wealth from rural producers and communities instead of leaving it where it is needed most: the local economy. He also revealed that, nationwide, farmers' earnings today are the same as they were during the Great Depression.

"Treasure Valley consumers spend $1.87 billion on food each year, yet $1.7 billion worth of that food comes from outside our region. According to Meter, if consumers bought just 15 percent of their fresh produce from a local farm or at a farmers market, it would be enough to produce $165 million in new farm income per year. Imagine what could happen if we all bought 50-75 percent of our produce, meat and dairy from local sources. 'If you don't invest in local production it won't grow any higher,' Meter said."

And in news of farmers markets ... Capital City Public Market recently started accepting EBT (that's food stamps) and the Thursday market is just kicking off on Eighth Street after work between Bannock and Idaho streets.

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