What we eat and where it comes from is a hot topic these days. Whether you’re discussing concerns about food safety, the environment, the local economy or agricultural viability, the desire to source food locally may have been a novel idea a few years ago, but today it makes headlines, sells books and is the subject of news stories and popular documentaries.
In 2007, the New Oxford American Dictionary dubbed the word “locavore” the Word of the Year. The term locavore describes people who eat primarily from their local foodshed.
American Airlines’ Celebrated Living Magazine named “Eating like a locavore” as the seventh most important food trend for 2008, and CNN News called “Locally Grown Food” the second of “5 Healthy Food Trends Worth Following” in a report it aired just over a year ago.
As exciting as this news is, many of the country’s regionalized food systems are not ready for the impact. In North Carolina, for example, the outcry for local food has led to a statewide study being conducted to determine how best to put a sustainable local food system in place. Similar programs, funded by public and private monies, are taking root all over our country.
Here in Western New York, we also have a struggling local food system. Consumers and local chefs want to know how they can source good, quality local food on an ongoing basis from the myriad farmers and artisan food producer located in our region.
Additionally, our area farmers have made their living for decades by selling to industrial food processors (on one end of the spectrum), or piece-by-piece at small farm stands (on the other). The increasing consumer demand for local food is not going to be met by farmers using either of these methods.
The Field & Fork Network is founded on the belief that developing a local food system is fundamental to the success and well-being of our region. Their mission is “to provide the building blocks to create a local food network in the eight counties of Western New York. By bringing food producers (farmers & artisans) and buyers (chefs, retailers, processors, distributors, and institutional purchasers) together, we hope to create a practical & sustainable economic engine for local agriculture.”
The Field & Fork Network has installed an Advisory Committee made up of area farmers, chefs and industry professionals. This committee includes:
- Diane Held – American Farmland Trust–WNY
- Sharon Bachman – Cornell Cooperative Extension–Erie County, NY
- Julie Blackman – Blackman Homestead Farm–Lockport, NY
- David & Gail Reino – Raisin Acres–Franklinville, NY
- Daniel & Jane Oles – Promised Land CSA– Alden, NY
- Adam & Jennifer Goetz – Sample Restaurant–Buffalo, NY
- Dave Cosentino & Breen Shea – Aroma Group – Buffalo, NY
- Lisa Tucker – Edible Buffalo, Field & Fork Network Co-Founder – Buffalo, NY
- Christa Glennie Seychew – Feed Your Soul, Field & Fork Network Co-Founder–Buffalo, NY
Together they will work toward the Field & Fork Network’s goals which include, but are not limited to:
Annual Farmer-Chef Conference
Business-to-business networking, educational workshops
Annual Local Food Sourcing Guide
Seasonal purchasing resource
Members network, strengthen existing relationships, find new resources and discuss the challenges of conducting business in a seasonal marketplace
Green Cuisine Consulting
A program and certification process for “greening” local restaurants
The First Annual Farmer-Chef Conference is slated to take place on February 23, 2009. Details are pending. For more information, or to take the Field & Fork Network’s poll about Local Food, visit their website at http://www.fieldandforknetwork.com or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.