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Locally produced and locally sold foods

By John Fulton       Send a link to a friend

[MARCH 22, 2004]  As more people are becoming aware of the safety aspects of food handling and production, they also find that buying from a local producer has many advantages. "Farm-Direct: The Central Illinois Farmer-to-Consumer Directory of Locally Produced and Locally Sold Foods" is a project begun in 2002-2003 to build strong links between local Illinois food producers and local consumers looking for fresh, healthy products.

 The initial effort, limited to 25 counties in east-central Illinois, yielded a listing of more than 200 producers, markets and processors that sold directly to consumers. These listings were compiled into a widely distributed brochure and on a user-friendly website: http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/

Farm-Direct is much more than a simple listing of producers. It also includes educational articles on topics such as "Why Buy Local?" and "What is a CSA?" which explain the benefits of local production and consumption.

If you, or someone you know, should be listed in the directory, please contact David Onstad, Farm Direct, University of Illinois, 1201 S. Dorner Drive, Urbana, IL 61801; or Onstad@uiuc.edu.

The project is a joint effort between the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program; The Land Connection, a nonprofit organization connecting sustainable farmers to consumers; and Prairieland Slow Food, a group dedicated to the preservation of artisan food production, heritage seeds and animal breeds, and good eating.

National Drinking Water Week

National Drinking Water Week is May 2-8. All water supplies contain impurities of some kind, and some contaminants, such as lime and calcium, pose no health risk. Others, such as wastewater, serve as a source of bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause gastrointestinal problems or transmit contagious diseases, while high levels of nitrate can present a serious health risk to infants.


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Water testing need not be complicated or expensive. Sampling for a few basic contaminants is sufficient to determine the overall quality of the water. Water should be checked for coliform bacteria, nitrates, pH and total dissolved solids, known as TDS. If one of these contaminants is present at an unacceptable level, then further testing may be warranted.

The best time to submit your yearly water sample is spring or early summer. If possible, gather the sample after a rainy period, as this is when levels of bacteria and nitrates will most likely be the greatest. A sample should also be submitted when any work is done on the water supply system or if there is a noticeable change in water taste, color or smell.

Local health departments, private companies and the Illinois State Water Survey are the three primary sources for water-sampling kits. It is important to note that the Illinois State Water Survey test does not include bacteria testing. Self-analysis kits can be purchased at select locations, but the results of those tests are generally not as accurate as those obtained from a certified water-testing laboratory.

For further assistance on local water testing, contact the Extension office at (217) 732-8289 or the Logan County Health Department at (217) 735-2317.

[John Fulton,
Logan County Extension office]

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