Local Foods | St. Louis Public Radio

Local Foods

A vendor sells vegetables from Ferguson's EarthDance Farms at a weekly farmer's market.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

Students at Ferguson-Florissant schools will see more locally grown produce in their lunches this year, after winning a Farm to School grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  

The grant adds $91,500 to an existing program that works like a small business: The district hires high schoolers to prepare produce from local farms for the district’s schools to serve during student lunches. Shifts begin after school hours, and at $10 an hour, wages are competitive with other after school jobs.

Ferguson Farmers Market

The oldest, still-operating farmers market in St. Louis, Soulard Farmers Market, has a history that stretches back over 200 years. But it is only in the past 15 that the local food scene has exploded across other municipalities in the region, bringing with it smaller markets and more opportunities for local growers to sell their produce and products.

Low-income customers' dollars will get twice the value on money spent on fruits and vegetables at several local farmers markets.
Courtesy SNAP 2 It! Program, via St. Louis Farmers Market Association

A new program at several local farmers markets will give low-income customers double the value for money spent on fruits and vegetables.

The Missouri Agriculture Department is hoping Farm-to-School value-added grants will bring more locally produced food into schools.
Stephanie Lecci

The Missouri Department of Agriculture will soon announce the winners of competitive grants aimed at increasing the amount of locally produced foods in school, while growing local businesses.

The Farm-to-School Value-Added grants will go to businesses that either buy or process foods from local farmers, or are food producers themselves. The applicants must already have a relationship with schools, either directly or through a distributor. 

via Flickr / Mark Hadley

Farms surrounding St. Louis now dedicate much less land to growing fruits and vegetables than they did 80 years ago.  According to a report released Wednesday by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, only one tenth of 1 percent of the cropland surrounding St. Louis is dedicated to produce. Commodity crops such as corn and soybeans take up the vast majority of the agricultural land within a 100-mile radius of the city.

Michelle Volansky / Courtesy Sauce Magazine

In our monthly Sound Bites segment in partnership with Sauce Magazine, host Steve Potter discussed the production and sale of local foods in St. Louis with Sauce Magazine executive editor Ligaya Figueras, Fair Shares CCSA co-founder Sara Hale and Fields Foods co-founder Jeffrey Randol.

You say tomato, I say 'Is it safe?'

Jul 1, 2008
A vendor with Silent Oaks Farm at Clayton Farmers Market. 300 pixels. 2008
Jo Seltzer | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 1, 2008 - "Every time there's a food scare, it's like a billboard advertising local food," says Andy Ayers, owner emeritus of Riddles Penultimate Cafe and Wine Bar in the U. City Loop.

This summer's tomato scare has left many of us wondering what is the safest way to enjoy the fruits of summer? Where is the best place to buy produce? How does produce get contaminated anyway? Once you've brought those bags of fruits and veggies home, what should you do next?