A big YES for the ways Kentucky's Agriculture Commissioner leads us to see Kentucky as a powerhouse of positive agriculture. This week, Comer and other elected officials announced Appalachia Proud, a concentration on the agricultural potential of eastern Kentucky that will be a companion to the successful Kentucky Proud marketing program.
New efforts to connect schools and local producers, FFA programs in every high school, special attention to foods that will grow well in the region—yes. A mighty yes.
A great shift happens when we invest in becoming more fully what we already are: an agricultural state. Chef Ouita Michel nailed this years ago in front of a crowd at the Incredible Food Show. I happened to catch it on video.
Commissioner Comer issued a challenge to Kentuckians recently: invest 10 percent of food dollars in Kentucky Proud products in 2014, and see an additional $500 million go to farmers and farm businesses this year. What we support with our dollars will support us, in turn.
Sustain Ontario reports on studies of the positive impact of similar local investing initiatives in Ontario and Detroit: "...buying local food has a multiplier effect of 1.4-2.6 throughout the wider local economy.[iii] Though the numbers seem small, the impact is huge. For example, it is estimated that if every household in Ontario spent $10 a week on local food, we would have an additional $2.4 billion in our local economy at the end of the year and create 10,000 new jobs.[iv] According to a study conducted by Michael Schuman, if the city of Detroit were to shift 20% of its food spending to local sources, 4,700 jobs would be created and the city would receive nearly $20 million more in business taxes per year.[v] Economic impact studies for regions across Ontario have also been conducted finding similarly impressive results.[vi] For example in Temiskaming it was found that for every dollar of farm gate sales, $2.80 to $3.30 is generated in the wider local economy.[vii]"
The recent term "makers," usually applied to artists and entrepreneurs, best describes our farmers, growers, and small food businesses. When we support our makers, we live in places we love, places that thrive. What we buy shapes where we live.