A local food source is available through 4-H

Iowa 4-H?ers have been ?learning by doing? since 1902.

One of the long-standing traditions of 4-H has been to teach young people skills of animal husbandry, livestock nutrition and production practices that will raise quality animals that go into the food system.

The 15,000 Iowa 4-H?ers enrolled in livestock projects produce about 17 million pounds of meat. Add to that the poultry and dairy projects. That is a lot of pork chops, steaks, milk and eggs!

4-H and FFA members are also part of the ?local food system.? The term ?food system? refers to all the processes involved in providing us with food: growing, harvesting, processing, packaging, transporting, marketing, consuming, and disposal. Local food systems provide additional ecological and economic benefits like reduced trucking costs and jobs for labor and processing.

The benefits of a local food system are vividly demonstrated at our county fairs each year. At the Washington County Fair, 4-H members have the option to sell their market animals at the end of the fair week to local buyers at a live auction on the fairgrounds.

In addition to receiving sometimes top dollar for their animals, youth get to shake the hand of the person who bought their animal and create an instant connection from farm to fork.

In 2017, Washington County 4-H/FFA members sold over 250 head of livestock at the County Fair Auction which were purchased by local businesses and personal buyers.

The majority of these animals sold are processed at local meat lockers or taken to other local auctions. Additional dollars are invested to pay the processing costs and trucking fees as well.

The County Fair Livestock Auction is a local food investment as the money goes to local youth and business over and over again throughout the process.

Head, Heart, Hands, Health. The 4-H pledge resonates through the local food system. Local food systems offer opportunities to support the livelihoods and well-being of people in the community.

Consumers can know where their food comes from, how it was made, and meet the people who raised it.