Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Food Safety Conversations for KY-TN Food

I wish I had known about the Tennessee Food Safety Task Force sooner.  What a great coalition working to help develop food safety solutions for local food.  I wish we in KY could do this program along with them.  Buyers, scientists, various state and local governments, school foodservice buyers all meeting to talk about local food and how to do it as safely as possible.

You can see what you missed skimming over the program.  Many excellent presentation - - every MarketReady alum should check in. 

The good news - - I'm promised by the program organizers that they are going to post the presentations.

Sarah Johnson, (Nashville Grown Food Hub) Jon Dicki (Nashville Schools FSD), and Jeremy Barlow (Sloco Sandwich Shop) sharing the innovative things they are each doing to support local food in the Nashville, TN area.

Also especially enjoyed hearing about the Food City's buy local program.  Great news for the KY/TN/VA region.  Hooray for the regional that is getting this local food merchandising right.  Mike Tipton, the FC Produce buyer, has been doing an awesome job.  I really hope you can check in soon to the TN Food Safety Task Force site and see his presentation.

Whole Foods, Local Food, and Grocers Backward Integrating

Very nice article on the current state of Whole Foods and their local foods sourcing efforts here http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-05-02/whole-foods-local-forager-elly-truesdell-is-a-grocery-tastemaker

We've had great input from area "foragers" at various MarketReady programs in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.  We actually had Whole Foods folks at each of our Tennessee grower training sites last year and had a bonus in-store tour in Chattanooga.  Very impressive.  I was impressed at their efforts to personalize the merchandising - pictures of stores and farms locally - interestingly including some from nearby Southern Georgia.

Back to this article - - I've seen this concept popping up in several grocers - rooftop gardens or grow-your-own local.  It's in keeping, I suppose, with the hyper-local sourcing business model being explored by a number of restuarants - (see What's Hot in 2013 NRA Chef's Survey item #7).

Are consumers really drawn to this?  Does "hyper-local" work for the grocery store?  I'm in Wegman's in State College, PA, one of my favorite grocery stores anywhere, and I see a big sign featuring Wegman's Farm.  Really?  Sure enough, Wegman's has gotten into the farming business - - see here .  This is one way to manage your upstream supply chain to assure a supply of local produce - start your own dedicated grocer-owned farm in the middle of your sales region.

Are consumers ONLY interested in geographic proximity when they are choosing products being merchandised as "local"?  Lots to say on this point.  But interested here to get reaction from the buy local community.