local food systems
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 survey out of the University on New Hampshire has uncovered a few surprising bits of information about the value consumers place on local produce.
The survey questioned 200 people and was conducted by John Halstead, professor of environmental and resource economics, and university students.
“There’s a lot of momentum toward producing more of our food locally and a lot of statements being made about how we should buy X percent of our food locally, and how if we just did this we’d produce all these jobs,” Halstead says. “I felt like there hasn’t been a lot of real economic research done that talks about why, for example, don’t we do this now if it’s such a great idea? Why is nobody doing it, and if it is such a great idea, what’s keeping it from taking hold?”
The phrases “grow well, eat well, live well, be well” adorn the website of Indianapolis urban farm Growing Places Indy, which uses food to help people find more wholeness in their lives.
For the past seven years, the work of Growing Places Indy has evolved to include a winter farmers’ market, yoga classes, a summer apprenticeship program, educational offerings, and several urban farm sites.
The journey started with the Indy Winter Farmers Market, founded in 2008 by Laura Henderson, who now serves as executive director of Growing Places Indy. Created to give Indianapolis residents a year-round supply of locally-produced foods, the winter market operates from November to April inside the Indianapolis City Market in downtown Indianapolis.
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.
A food hub here, a farmers’ market there, and CSA’s both here and there—what is the best way to find local foods? In Maine, this question is being addressed by The Maine Food Atlas.
Created by the Maine Network of Community Food Councils, The Maine Food Atlas is designed to map local food assets throughout the state to enhance food security and improve food quality throughout the state.
The Maine Food Atlas is an interactive website that lists local food assets in the following categories: food production, processing and manufacturing, distribution and storage, local food outlets, food access and nutrition, and education and support.
“We’re trying to rebuild community food systems, with less reliance on industrial agriculture and imported foods,” says Ken Morse, coordinator of Maine Network of Community Food Councils.
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.
Grass-fed beef, yams, ostrich eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, wild game—all of these and more can be found in or near Temecula, California.
Located in southwestern Riverside County and at the southwest point of the Inland Empire region, Temecula is located in the Temecula Valley, home to many vineyards and wineries.
While Temecula is now a thriving epicenter of the local foods movement, this was not always the case.
When local food artisan and chef Leah Di Bernardo decided to move back to Southern California from New York City (she grew up on both coasts), Riverside County was the last place she thought she would end up. But she landed in Temecula.
Hawaii, known for its beaches and lavish resorts, has become a hotspot for local food and agriculture in recent years.
Hawaii was No. 8 on the 2015 Locavore Index, a list that ranks every state in its commitment to local foods. The list is compiled by Vermont-based local food advocacy organization Strolling of the Heifers.
“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.
The index takes into account the number of food hubs, farmers’ markets and CSAs, as well as farm-to-school efforts and per capita direct food sales.