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FOOD PLAN: Iowans Talk Local Food

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Local food experts say more fruits, veggies and meats are making it from Iowa farms to Iowa forks, but there's still more work to be done. Lawmakers asked a group of local food experts to look at how to grow the local food economy as part of the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan in 2011.

Those leading the movement say they've made progress, but there's still more work to do, and you can help.

From farmers' markets to local food co-ops, Craig Chase says, "It seems local food is popping up pretty much everywhere in the state."

Chase is with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Coordinator of the Local Food and Farm Plan. Lawmakers created the statewide initiative last year. The program got $75,000 the first year to work with groups around the state in developing a plan that boosts production and creates jobs.

Chase says, "With the idea being, if we put together a community practice, or working group, then people will learn from each other and hopefully they'll be able to move faster, farther and hopefully more efficient."

Chase says a team of six is looking at 29 recommendations. Those range from how to get minorities and beginners into farming, how to increase production and how to get that local food into larger grocery stores.

Lynn Heuss says, "We're at the next step stage and we want to hear from as many people as we can."

Heuss is the coordinator of the upcoming Iowa Local Food Summit.  She says the group has already accomplished some of the goals. Now, they want to hear from farmers, distributors and even eaters at the summit on Tuesday, April 3. She says they’re expecting more than 100 people from across the state to bring more voices into the conversation. Heuss says, "There's so many great folks out there with levels of expertise and ideas and boots on the ground, experience that we want to make sure we listen and learn from all that they can bring to the table."

Chase says an Iowa State University Economist recently did a study that showed if Iowans ate five servings of local fruits and vegetables in a day for three months out of the year, more than 4,000 local food jobs would be created.

The Iowa Local Food Summit takes place Tuesday, April 3 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Scheman Building at Iowa State. Click here for more information about Iowa Local Food Summit.

After the summit, people can attend a local foods dinner.