Break out a bottle of your favorite North Carolina wine and raise a toast: the N.C. 10% Campaign has hit the milestone of $25 million. The 10% Campaign, a Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) initiative, encourages all North Carolinians to spend 10 percent of their food dollars on locally grown and produced foods. The campaign has now recorded more than $25 million in local food purchases since its launch in July 2010.
The campaign’s goal is to build a local food economy in North Carolina. North Carolinians spend about $35 billion a year on food. If each person spent 10 percent locally — roughly $1.05 per day — about $3.5 billion would be available in the local economy. Individuals and businesses that join the N.C. 10% Campaign record their weekly local food purchases online, tracking them collectively on the campaign’s website, www.nc10percent.com.
The campaign’s diverse partnerships span the food system and include N.C. Cooperative Extension, which has designated a local foods agent in each of the state’s 100 counties, many local governments (county and municipality), universities and colleges, farmers’ markets, three grocery store chains (Lowes Foods, Whole Foods Markets and some Piggly Wiggly stores), more than 200 restaurants and food service providers, food distributors, hundreds of farmers and of course, nearly 6,000 consumers. All are committed to increasing and sustaining their local foods purchases.
“This is good news for consumers and producers alike in that it shows clear evidence of consumer interest and a local market, as well as innovation and new entrepreneurship in how local foods are marketed and delivered,” said Dr. John O’Sullivan, CEFS co-director from N.C. A&T State University.
The campaign’s success is being recognized nationally, as well. U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited CEFS in February 2011, drawn to North Carolina by the Campaign’s growth. “This effort represents exactly the kind of exciting innovation that the Secretary and I think is key to rural revitalization,” she said.
More recently, Merrigan attributed North Carolina’s rise in number of farmers’ markets — the state has the 10th-most farmers’ markets in the country, and the number has increased 11 percent since 2010 – in part to the efforts of the 10% Campaign. CEFS also just received the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award for “exceptional leadership, contributions, or public service by individuals or groups who support the overall mission/goals of USDA”.
For more information, or to join the 10% Campaign, visit www.nc10percent.com.
The Center for Environmental Farming Systems is a partnership of North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. For more information, please visit www.cefs.ncsu.edu.