Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.COM) --- A "buy local" food movement is spreading across the Northland.
With a growing consumer consciousness, several businesses are making a commitment to buy from local and regional sources.
It's part of the Superior Compact Purchasing Commitment of 20 percent by 2020.
Many individuals recognize the importance of supporting local food systems.
"Food is more than just a commodity, people care about how it's produced, where it's produced, its impact on the environment, its impact on the local economy," Jamie Harvie, Executive Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Future said.
Regional food networks like the Institute for a Sustainable Future are developing measurable goals and benchmarks to drive investments into the local food network.
"There are plenty of restaurants around the area, also who want to purchase more locally," Kelly Erb, a UMD grad student said.
Erb has recently completed an extensive study to show where regional restaurants food comes from and how much of it is locally sources.
She spent more than half a year tracking down every farm and supplier used by the Duluth Grill to arrive at a figure of more than 25 percent.
"Cheap food is like buying a cheap vehicle, or like anything, it's really disposable, money that you are putting out, because you are not getting any value back in it," Tom Hanson, Owner of Duluth Grill said.
More than 10 restaurants from within a 20 county region in the Northland, including the Duluth Grill, have now promised to make sure 20 percent of their product is locally sourced by 2020.
It's a pledge that sends a signal to food producers that there is an interest in locally grown foods.
"Without that defined commitment, they are a little bit nervous about, do I invest in storage, do I invest in other forms of infrastructure that can allow them to increase their sales," Harvie said.
If the businesses you own or patronize, buy food, the Institute for a Sustainable Future says you can ask decision makers to sign
the compact and make the pledge to be 20 percent locally sourced by 2020.