Health

Kentucky has 85,300 farms—and Louisville has a healthy demand for what the farmers produce, advocates of local foods say.

This past weekend, experts and advocates of local foods met in Louisville for the Healthy Food, Local Farms conference to discuss sustainability, economic development and the movement as a whole.

A 2012 report said Louisville has more demand for local food than supply. The group gathered in Louisville was trying to figure out ways to support that demand—and increase it.

We sat down with a few of them to pick their brains about food, farmers and health.

If you could change one thing about our food system, what would it be?

“I would stop farmland from being plowed over for subdivisions and strip malls.”

-Darby Minow Smith, assistant manager of Grist Magazine

“I would have all institutions serve local food in all of the meals they serve.”

-Sarah Fritschner, coordinator of Louisville’s Farm to Table Program

How should people view food in relation to their overall health and wellness?

“Get people to understand that our health and the health of the soil are one and the same. Treat our bodies as if it were soil and treat soil as if it were our bodies. When we start to do that, we’re going to get healthier as a community and have healthier farms.”

-Dr. Daphne Miller, author of “Farmacology”

“Think about food production in terms of its economic impact. Considering those really basic decisions about where you put your money is one way to think about your relationship to a much larger complex system that may seem far beyond your control or beyond your scope of understanding, but that’s one tangible decision that you make every day that could have a big impact.”

-Daniel Tucker, author of “Farm Together Now: A portrait of people, places and ideas for a new food movement”

“We have to have energy in order to live on this planet. So, we start with the food because in order to make it through the day we have to have a good source of energy. We derive that in two main ways: We either chew it or we drink it. Now, how you get your energy is your choice.”

-Angela Jackson, director of GIVE Life

What is the biggest misconception about the local food movement?

“That local food is always expensive. I think that people go to farmers markets and think, ‘that’s a pretty high price to pay for a tomato or a pound of lettuce.’ There are many farmers who sell wholesale and there are many ways to get very reasonably priced foods into restaurants, hospitals, business offices and dining services at the university that work for everyone.”

-Fritschner

“I think the biggest misconception is that it’s only for wealthy people or for upper class people. This is a health right to be able to eat fresh, locally produced food that’s from healthy soil. It’s a right for all Americans. We have to start finding ways that every person in this country can eat fresh and local. It’s not an elite, decadent thing to do. It’s a basic thing to stay healthy.”

-Miller

Why should Kentuckians support farmers by buying local foods?

“Farmers have the potential to be healers and to be people that care for us. There’s been a long history of them being encouraged to make food that’s essentially not for human consumption and so any farmers that’s attempting to make a move in the direction of growing and raising food that is healthy and for human consumption—they need to be supported and celebrated.”

-Tucker

“The coasts have been ignoring Louisville and the middle of the country for a long time. You guys are really at the forefront of a lot of these things. You have a really strong agricultural community and I think we can learn a lot from you.”

-Minow Smith