Friday, February 04, 2011

Local and regional foods create economic development

There are many definitions of 'local', and all of us can find a version that works best personally.

My friend Karen Lehman from the group Fresh Taste (Chicago) uses 250 miles. Others use more or less, or utilize political boundaries. Rich Pirog and the Leopold Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State make great sense by defining the process in terms of 'regional food systems', a term that can jump political boundaries.

No matter what you use for a definition, the impact of buying foods that are produced in the region you live in creates a big, positive economic impact for you and your regional communities.

Here is a quote I'm borrowing from our great 'Something Special From Wisconsin' group, within the Wisconsin Department of Ag:

"On average, locally purchased products return $.70 of every dollar to the local economy. Non-local products return only $.40. Steve Deller, an economist at the UW-Madison, states that for every $100,000 of new sales of local food, 2.2 jobs are created and $77,000 of income is brought back in."

Sounds like a plan. This is what our Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is hoping to nurture. We are focusing on preparing and processing regional foods to supply good, healthy food at a scale that can make an impact in our region.

I believe appropriate-scale, collaborative food processing and distribution networks represent the missing links needed for increasing the economic development momentum we now see growing in local and regional foods.

Our new three-facility regional food processing and distribution network (the Food Action Alliance) should be able to run some valuable new experiments needed to grow these kind of systems. I hope to outline our new FACT Alliance network and its early goals in the next post.

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen

Fresh Taste

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

Something Special from Wisconsin

Iowa County Area Economic Development Come Grow With Us


Anonymous said...

We've seen some notice about your work before, but don't believe we left a comment. If so we'll just say it again: Good Work Indeed. Locally grown foodstuffs and value added food products make a place more fun to live and eliminate the many unknown possible hazards to nutrition and actual food safety during processing and transportation.

Good for you!

SciReg said...

Oh, it is a great post! I really like it!^_^