Local Food in Indiana: Where do we go from here?
Community Leaders & Local Farmers Answer at Slow Food Indy Annual Meeting
For more information, contact Slow Food Indy President Tyler Henderson: firstname.lastname@example.org
What: Slow Food Indy Annual Meeting & Pitch-In
When: Sunday, January 22, 2pm-4pm
Where: Wheeler Arts Community (1035 Sanders Street in Historic Fountain Square, Indianapolis)
What to bring: a dish to share and your own dining ware (plates, cups, utensils, etc.)
The Super Bowl may not be the biggest stimulus for the local economy this year.
Just before the end of last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a report estimating locally grown foods to generate $7 billion dollars in 2011. With Indianapolis and the state poised to claim a big piece of that local food economy pie, it could make the short-term injection of even the Super Bowl’s millions look like small potatoes.
While each Super Bowl ticket means short term investments of hotel stays and souvenir receipts, the USDA report concludes that “farmers’ markets have been found to have positive impacts on local economies.” Citing Midwestern states’ research, the report outlines how each dollar spent at farmers’ markets brought an additional 58 cents of in-direct local spending and how two new full-time farmers’ market jobs spurred the creation of an additional full-time job in another local sector.
Going to market is just the beginning, since the Indiana State Department of Agriculture reports that for every salary dollar earned by local farmers and food producers, more than 2.5 times that amount flows into a local economy.
As Indiana’s unemployment rate teeters around the national 8.6% unemployed and the state of our economy is at the forefront of debate locally and nationally, the results of the USDA’s report on local food’s long-term cash infusion and job creation can’t be ignored…even with the big game on the way.
Despite Indianapolis’ renown as the cradle for aspiring chain restaurants (where lots of dollars leave the local economy), the city and surrounding communities are making changes that mean more jobs and more money stay in central Indiana. Within the last two years around Indianapolis, the number of farmers markets continues to increase, more and more urban lots are available for growing food, the city’s first food co-op celebrated its one year anniversary, hospitals and businesses are partnering with local producers for fresh, local food, and locally-owned restaurants and retail shops receive national media attention for the quality of their locally-sourced dishes.
The local food accomplishments in Indianapolis’ recent past are many, but where do we go from here and how can Indiana see even more benefit from what even the USDA recognizes as a strengthening segment of our economy?
Those are the questions a panel of local community leaders, cooks, and farmers will work together to answer during Slow Food Indy’s annual meeting and pitch-in, Jan. 22, 2-4pm in the Wheeler Arts Community. Join Chef Neal Brown of The Libertine and PIzzology along with CEO and Medical Director of Wishard Health Services Dr. Lisa Harris and David Robb who manages Harvestland Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture where produce is tended and harvested by client-employees from the Aspire Indiana Behavioral Health System and Anderson University students. Also joining the panel is farmer Greg Gunthorp who turned his back on commercial agriculture to raise animals all-naturally which not only saved his farm but spurred the local economy as his operation grew to the largest true pasture poultry operation in the U.S. while chefs near and far praise the quality of his all-natural, humanely raised poultry and pork. Moderating the discussion is Laura Henderson, founder of the Indy Winter Farmers Market.
It’s the in-season for local food in Indiana. Is our team ready for a winning season?