Sarasota / Manatee / Charlotte Edition
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Connecting Food With Restaurants

Organizers of the Suncoast Food Alliance are working hard to improve the likeliness that the Sangria ordered at local restaurants is made with fruit picked from local crops.

Founder John Matthews said he was frustrated when he first moved to Florida and couldn’t find an orange at the grocery stores that hadn’t been shipped from California. In a region famous for citrus, he thought it unusual that the local fruit was being sent out of state.

That led him to create the Alliance, something modeled off of successful programs like Eastern Carolina Organics, to better connect providers of local crops with preparers of local food. The efforts have moved from getting local produce in schools to getting local chefs connected with regional farms. The benefits with local sourcing are numerous, Matthews said. Transit costs are reduced, making businesses greener. And every dollar spent on local deals turns over within the community on average seven times, Matthews said, as opposed to money spent at chain grocers that ship the dollars out of state immediately.

The biggest incentive for Matthews has always been about health. He has been distraught to see an increase of cases of childhood diabetes, and feels a push for better produce will help cure such societal ills. “Food eaten within three days of harvest is the most nutritionally good food that you can eat,” he said.

For more information visit suncoastfoodalliance.org.

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