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Thumbs up: Expo help set the table for building local food industry

Oct. 26, 2013 @ 12:04 AM

Interest in food grown closer to home has gained momentum in recent years.

That in turn has sparked an increase in farmer’s markets, for example, and plenty of discussion among local groups and state policymakers about how to bulk up the volume of foods grown locally or regionally. That’s all good. The discussions are important and can lay out a road map for progress in increasing locally produced goods and feeding demand for them. But an event this week in Huntington got down to the nuts and bolts of the issue by focusing on connecting food producers and potential buyers.

The inaugural Huntington Local Foods Expo on Wednesday at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center was aimed at connecting regional food growers, producers and processors with buyers from restaurants, grocery stores, schools, institutions and other food venues. It included exhibits of organizations and agencies providing products and services that can help food producers. There even was what could be likened to a “speed dating” session allowing farmers and buyers to become acquainted with each other.

The event offered a way for potential producers and buyers to get down to the nitty-gritty of exploring ways they can do business with each other. A by-product of the expo was a Buyer-Grower Directory that includes information about local farmers and their products and specialties as well as local businesses and agencies that need food.

The event, one of several expos planned around the state, was hosted by the Huntington 30 Mile Meal organization, Unlimited Future Inc. and the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition. Participants said the event was useful to them, setting the table for boosting the local food industry in the future.



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