local and regional distribution
The rich Cajun and Creole food tradition of southern Louisiana’s French-speaking region of Acadiana is the target of preservation efforts by a new local food alliance.
Until recently, efforts to bolster local foods in the Acadiana region were disparate and disjointed, according to Christopher Adams, executive director of the Cultural Research Institute of Acadiana. The Acadiana Food Alliance is trying to change that.
“There’s been a fair amount of movement in the area for local food, including an upsurge in farmers’ markets and lots of restaurants featuring local food on menus,” says Adams. “These have been independent and scattered efforts, with lots of individual potentials. Our hope is to bring together an effective collaboration.”
The journey toward the new food alliance began in February 2014 when about 30 interested people began meeting regularly. The group applied for technical assistance from the U.S. EPA’s Local Foods, Local Places program, and were one of 26 recipients (out of 300 applicants) nationwide. The Local Foods, Local Places program seeks to enhance economic opportunities for locally based farmers and businesses by improving access to healthy local food and supporting food hubs, farmers’ markets, and community gardens and kitchens.
A popular new restaurant proclaims that it serves only local food and drink. But how do its customers know if the restaurant’s food is truly local? A new website looks to answer this question.
Local Local, founded by Reed Shelger in 2014, provides an online directory of restaurants and other food retailers that procure and sell local foods.
Shelger, who worked as a consultant in the commercial food industry after earning an undergraduate degree in managerial economics from the University of California, Davis and a master’s in business administration from Rice University, saw firsthand how grocery stores and restaurants “local-wash.” “Local-washing” is defined as exaggerating or fabricating the extent to which food comes from local sources.
On August 31, the University of Maine (UMaine) System released a formal request for proposals (RFP) designed to significantly increase sourcing of locally grown foods across its six campuses.
A contract between UMaine and corporate food vendor Aramark will conclude on June 30, 2016, ending a 10-year relationship. The move comes after a coalition of activist groups had lobbied the UMaine system to source more of its food locally.
The Maine Food for the UMaine System project is a coalition of 20 organizations, 170 farmers and more than 1,500 students, faculty and staff within the UMaine system. It’s spearheaded by Farm to Institution New England, Maine Farmland Trust, Real Food Challenge and Environment Maine.
Just north of San Francisco, Mendocino and Lake counties in California are full of small to medium-sized farmers. Many of them sell at local farmers’ markets.
But John Bailey noticed that the time and money many farmers spend just getting their crops to market can make a substantial dent in profits.
“They spend lots of money going to farmers’ markets, but do not earn a profit from farmers’ markets,” says Bailey. “Lots of farmers have no idea how to sell wholesale.”
The Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) addresses infrastructure and population challenges in the nation’s last frontier in an effort to localize Alaska’s food system.
Founded in 1994, the AMCC works hard to ensure the economics of Alaska’s most bountiful natural resources, its marine life and coastal communities.
Maine is a great destination for locally-sourced food, as evidenced by its strong showing in the latest Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index. In 2015, the state ranked No. 2, a spot it has held since 2013.
“The purpose of the Index is to stimulate efforts across the country to use more local food in homes, restaurants, schools and institutions,” says Orly Munzing, founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers.
A group of farmers, horticultural experts and politicians from both sides of the aisle have come together to learn about local food in Kansas.
The seven-member Local Food and Farm Task Force, established by Kansas Senate Bill 286, will prepare a report of their findings along with policy and funding recommendations for January 2016 session of the Kansas legislature. Monthly meetings started this past November and will continue through December 2015.
The task force includes a horticultural expert from Kansas State University’s extension system, a Republican and a Democrat selected by their respective party’s legislative leadership, a member from the Kansas Department of Agriculture and three member appointed by the governor—including the chairman, Ron Brown, who is a family farmer and executive board member of the National Association of Conservation Districts.
Kerry Wefald, Agriculture Marketing Director at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, attends task force meetings as a member of the administrative support team. According to Wefald, the current focus of the task force is to get an idea of what gaps exist in the state food system.
The United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service recently published a report on the breadth of local and regional food systems, as well as current trends.
In 2012, 163,675 farmers sold a total of about $6.1 billion worth of locally marketed food, states the report. Also according to the report, 7.8 percent of U.S. farms sell local foods, which represents 1.5 percent of the total value of agricultural production in the U.S.