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Reader's view: Reasons for optimism about homegrown food

In regard to your May 1 article about our food systems, "Rock star of urban ag visits Duluth," I am optimistic about the future of food production for many reasons.

In regard to your May 1 article about our food systems, "Rock star of urban ag visits Duluth," I am optimistic about the future of food production for many reasons.

Consumers are educating themselves about the difference between quality food that is grown organically versus chemically grown and genetically engineered foods. In fact, organic foods are the fastest growing sector in the American food industry.

Consumers are increasing their purchase of food today that is grown locally and regionally as is evident by more farmers markets; community-supported agriculture programs; sustainable farming associations that help link growers with consumers; and "you pick" fruit farms and organic farms throughout the country. Locally, there is increased membership in our local Whole Foods Coop and in our community garden programs.

Consumers are growing more of their own fruits and vegetables. According to USA Today, "Harris Seed Co. has seen a record 80 percent jump in seed sales and the number of homes growing vegetables will jump more than 40 percent this year compared with just two years ago, projects the National Gardening Association."

When I first started gardening organically 25 years ago there were no community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs and when I was working for Organic Consumers Association in 1998 there were less than a thousand CSAs. Now, according to Local Harvest, it lists over 4,000 CSA farms in the U.S.; and according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, in 2007 there were over 12,549 farms in the U.S. that marketed their products through a CSA. A CSA is where you purchase a share from a local farm and in return you receive a box filled with vegetables which may also include fruits, eggs and flowers every week.

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Well, time for gardening - my chives are up from last year and my daffodils are trying to bloom. Optimism springs eternal!

Deb Ortman

Hermantown

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