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local and regional distribution

New Alliance Strives to Preserve Rich Local Food Culture of Louisiana’s Acadiana Region

November 24, 2015 |
Okra, used in gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun/Creole foods, is one of several locally-grown crops in southern Louisiana’s Acadiana region. (photo courtesy Chris Adams/Acadiana Food Alliance)

Okra, used in gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun/Creole foods, is one of several locally-grown crops in southern Louisiana’s Acadiana region. (Photo courtesy Chris Adams/Acadiana Food Alliance)

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. Read More

Website Fights ‘Local-wash’, Reveals Which Food Retailers Truly Serve Up Local

October 26, 2015 |
A screenshot of the Local Local website features three of its key features: searching for, discovering, and connecting with food businesses that provide local fare. (image courtesy Reed Shelger/Local Local)

A screenshot of the Local Local website features three of its key features: searching for, discovering, and connecting with food businesses that provide local fare. (image courtesy Reed Shelger/Local Local)

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.   Read More

Activist Coalition Pushes University of Maine System to Source More Local Foods

September 1, 2015 |
The University of Southern Maine in Portland is one of six campuses in the UMaine system, whose food vendor contract ends next year. The UMaine system recently released a request for proposal to source more of its food locally. (Wikimedia Commons phot

The University of Southern Maine in Portland is one of six campuses in the UMaine system whose food vendor contract ends next year. The UMaine system recently released a request for proposal to source more of its food locally. (Wikimedia Commons phot

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 EnglandMaine Farmland TrustReal Food Challenge and Environment Maine. Read More

California Food Hub Innovates by Decentralizing Distribution

July 7, 2015 |
Image courtesy of MendoLake Food Hub

Image courtesy of MendoLake Food Hub

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.” Read More

Alaska Marine Conservation Council Sustains Local Food in Coastal Communities

June 17, 2015 |
Courtesy of the AMCC

Courtesy of the AMCC

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. Read More

CSAs, Food Hubs, and Farm-to-School Programs Earn Maine No. 2 Spot in Locavore Index

June 8, 2015 |
Maine, which ranks No. 4 on the Locavore Index, has over 125 farmers’ markets serving delicious and colorful produce. (photo courtesy of John Bott/Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry)

Maine, which ranks No. 2 on the Locavore Index, has over 125 farmers’ markets serving delicious and colorful produce. (photo courtesy of John Bott/Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry)

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. Read More

Kansas Task Force Seeks to Strengthen Local Food in a Big Ag State

June 3, 2015 |

 

Vendors at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market make a sale. Like other states, Kansas has seen a boom in the number and popularity of farmers’ markets in recent years. Image courtesy of Overland Park Farmers' Market/ Jason Ebberts with TBL Photography.

Vendors at the Overland Park Farmers’ Market make a sale. Like other states, Kansas has seen a boom in the number and popularity of farmers’ markets in recent years. Image courtesy of Overland Park Farmers’ Market/ Jason Ebberts with TBL Photography.

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. Read More

USDA Report Shows Increase in Activity of Local and Regional Food Systems

May 10, 2015 |

post_usdalogoThe 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.

Read More