By Mike Rosso

Once a year or so, we like to devote an entire issue of Colorado Central to a specific topic, and what could be more interesting than the subject of food? Food growth, preparation, distribution, consumption – all things edible.

What you may notice throughout this issue is a common thread: local foods. Unprompted, many of the writers took it upon themselves to highlight the benefits of a local foods economy – not just the financial advantages, but the health benefits as well.

The “eat local” movement has taken hold in other parts of the country, but Colorado seems to be front and center, despite the limitations of high-altitude production. From cattle to wheat, peaches to peppers, the state grows an extraordinary amount of food, and it would take a whole lot more than one issue to cover just Central Colorado’s contributions to the state’s foodshed.

We’ve done our best to represent many aspects of this topic in only fifty pages. There are certainly a bunch of folks we had to leave out: chefs, growers, sellers and more. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do another food issue in the future.

One newsworthy food item came from the Colorado legislature, of all places.

Sponsored by State Sen. Gail Schwartz and Congressman Don Coram, Senate Bill 12-048, The Colorado Cottage Foods Act, was signed into law on March 15, 2012 by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The bill exempts small food producers from the licensing requirements placed on retail food establishments that require producers to be certified in safe food handling and processing.

The idea behind the bill is “to foster direct connections between people and local producers,” which “supports economic development and agritourism in Colorado communities by generating entrepreneurial opportunities, encouraging direct-to-consumer sales of locally grown and prepared foods, and creating new jobs.”

This means, among other things, that awesome jar of chokecherry preserves that your family loves can be sold at a farmers market or bake sale without the need of a commercial kitchen. The bill states, “Making fresh, locally sourced foods more easily available to all consumers will improve the healthy eating habits of all Coloradans.”

It’s hard to argue with a rare case of bipartisan legislation like that.

Happy eating!