Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is asking county residents to put their money back into their own communities through ChooseLI.org, a new initiative the county unveiled late last week.
The collaborative effort seeks to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of local businesses on Long Island. Residents can “Take the Pledge” and commit to spending 10 percent of their weekly food budget on local and seasonal food and beverages across Suffolk County.
“Suffolk County is home to some of the most diverse and exciting agricultural and fishing selections in the entire state of New York,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone in a press release issued on July 12. “I encourage all our residents to take the pledge with me and shop local, investing in products that were grown and harvested right here in our own backyard.”
“Suffolk County has a long and rich history of agriculture production,” said Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming. “As residents we are blessed to have access to such diverse and freshly harvested foods that are part of a healthy and nutritious diet. By choosing local and independent options you not only get some of the freshest options on the market, but you also support local and independent businesses. Locally owned businesses, such as farms and fisheries, are the backbone of our local economy. They are owned by, and employ, our neighbors, our families, and our friends. Always choose the local, fresh, and independent options, and always Choose Long Island.”
The Choose LI website will include a complete mapping and inventory of all the farmstands, farmers’ markets, fish markets, vineyards, breweries, and cideries in Suffolk County for residents, as well as information on what products are available seasonally.
In taking the pledge, residents commit to spending 10 percent of their weekly food budget, or $17.60, on local food and goods. An analysis done by Suffolk County’s Department of Economic Development and Planning states that if just 10 percent of the over 450,000 household located in Suffolk County commits to spending 10 percent of their weekly food budget on local food and beverages over a typical harvest season for Suffolk County, that spending would add an estimated $19 million into the Suffolk County economy. This $19 million in direct spending would create $33 million in total economic activity and nearly 1,000 local jobs.
“Long Islanders are fortunate to have a diverse agricultural community that grows healthy and delicious food,” said John v.H. Halsey, president of the Peconic Land Trust. “By supporting our local growers and fisheries, we make our communities and agriculture stronger.”
“We at the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association are all hands on deck to ‘Take the Pledge’ alongside County Executive Bellone and Choose LI fish,” said Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association. “Our local fish doesn’t get any fresher than the species landed on Long Island, where 99 percent of NY’s catch is brought to port. We look forward to educating consumers toward healthy, wholesome and delicious future meals.”