The Food Broker

Fritschner’s job is important to a state full of small farmers who recently lost a reliable market for an important cash crop—tobacco—and who are trying to find new markets for farm products. But it is also a national model for how to improve a local food economy, or indeed any local economy. If you think I exaggerate, then take a look at a recent Ford Foundation initiative. The method Ford has studied and is now testing in southeastern Ohio to improve a rural economy there is to leverage one of the area’s local commodities—in this case, wood—through precisely this Farm-to-Table method of cooperative brokerage. An organization called Rural Action is linking regional wood suppliers, mills, builders and woodworkers through information sharing, marketing and  partnerships.

As economic development programs go, Farm to Table is cheap. It requires nothing like the millions in tax incentives regularly used to persuade a major manufacturer to relocate or stay, or the $950,000 the city is currently paying Greater Louisville Inc. (our chamber) to work on large-scale economic development projects. For the price of one moderately-compensated job, Louisville is buttressing and creating numerous businesses both in the city and in the rural towns that surround her.  And as the economists know, small businesses create the bulk of jobs in any state’s economy.

Finally, Farm to Table is keeping local food dollars in Kentucky—and since Louisville spends an estimated $3 billion on food annually, we are talking real money. The more Louisville feeds itself gastronomically, the more it feeds itself economically. Those here who are hungry for more local food and more local markets have someone to call.

Photo by Marjie Kennedy

Page 2 of 2 | Previous page

2 comments on this post.
  1. Joshua D. Cooney:

    Thank you for the article, Ms. Dalton.

  2. D.W. Sabin:

    It is always interesting to me that what we once possessed seems so difficult to recover but there you have it. Just one or two generations of a wrong-headed agenda can become a formidable obstacle .

    I hope you and the family are fine after this past week’s storms.

Leave a comment