Podcast 36: The Understander: What Lilian Brislen and Her Research Colleagues Are Learning at UK's Food Connection
We don't need more "first processing" (cleaning and prepping single fresh foods for use as ingredients in food preparation) for Kentucky produce. Not just yet, according to UK Food Connection director Lilian Brislen. She knows, because she and other smart researchers go deep with interviews of people directly involved in food production, processing and purchasing, and serious analysis of data. Their most recent study revealed that far fewer Kentucky acres are devoted to produce than in our neighboring states, so Kentucky produce growers' processing needs aren't yet exceeding capacity.
Of course, Lily and chef Ouita agreed, scale and timing affect growers' decisions about what to grow. Maybe farmers aren't growing vegetables, fruits and nuts because there's no handy processing. Yes, it's chickens-and-eggs, conundrums that appear often in conversations about food processing, food hubs, and gaps in regional food systems. Lily knows a great deal about food hubs, and pays informed attention to how each food hub responds to conditions and factors in its particular context. We hope to keep learning from Lily what she and all the Food Connection crew keep figuring out.
Our special thanks to chef and Culinary Evangelist/Civic Instigator Dan Wu. Dan came to the studio to help promote Passport to Flavor, an inventive, flavorful, affordable fund-raiser for Kentucky Refugee Ministries. Thank you, Dan!