t his local fruit, Santa Maria strawberries," Radka said. "But he said he got all of his strawberries from the warehouse. I asked him where the warehouse was, and he said that it's not in the county. Turns out it's in the Bay Area. So strawberries from Santa Maria are transported by truck to a warehouse in the Bay Area and then trucked back here to be sold in stores. To them, that's local. There's a lot of evidence that keeping money from sales of food grown in the county is a boost to the economy but, if that's included in your definition of local, then obviously the definition of local used by some chain grocery stores is not adequate."
Going local, according to Cleveland, is just a start. "We have to not let local become the goal," he said. "I think that's the take-home lesson of this study. Local has to be a strategy for getting to the real, bigger goals we have."
For example, according to Cleveland, one important aspect that is often overlooked is the extent to which local agriculture is dependent on imported labor. "Localization of the Santa Barbara County agrifood system may be at the price of de-localization of communities in Mexico and Central America," he said.
Cleveland, Radka, and other students will be hosting a workshop soon to discuss the potential for localizing the Santa Barbara County agrifood system. "We're talking about localizing as a strategy instead of a goal," Radka said. "Our end goal is to decrease greenhouse gases, increase everyone's access to local produce, improve nutrition, and strengthen the local economy and make sure that the localizing strategy meets those goals."
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