When you ask someone; What constitutes “local” food? Answers will vary. I say that because I always ask, and rarely do I hear the same answer. No matter what province, or state, I’m in. So let’s focus on what “local food” can do for your local economy.
From an Economic Development perspective, the local food movement will continue to have a significant multiplier in your local economy. Particularly if you represent a rural area in Canada or the United States, farmers markets are popping up everywhere as they are good for business expansion and the much coveted “community building” (again).
If it is such a proven model for development, why hasn’t everyone that can grow food, done a local food multiplier project?
What do you do if the region you represent is one of the most agriculturally productive areas in Canada, but in the past has been primarily focused on large commodities for export?
Well, it starts with research, meeting as many farmers as you can, showing them some great software from LightShip, and spreading the idea that awareness campaigns and food celebrations are some of the best tools economic developers have to grow the local economy.
Okay Douglas, what did you do though?
Well we threw a great big local food celebration where we sourced every aspect of the meal within 100 kms of city hall, and called it the “BIG DIG”. We did this for 2 reasons:
- In order to show that you could have a great fall meal with entirely local ingredients.
- To encourage participants to explore a great big mapping project that we called “Our Big Table”, which showcased where every ingredient of the meal came from and introduced every farm.
With the added use of short videos and social media pushes, we introduced locals and tourists alike to the people that grew their food and encouraged them to eat local and grow their local economy.
Here is the result: