By Catherine Cochran, Food Systems Intern
Between enjoying live entertainment from a tap-dancing fiddler and getting to sample locally-landed ceviche, attendees of the 2016 Good Food Showcase agreed that the event was a major success! On December 2nd over 250 people attended the event at Coastal Roots Farm to show their dedication to preserving and growing the local good food movement. More than 50 local producers and growers were joined by 150 buyers and 70 purchasing institutions as well as 30 community partners at this event, and the outcome was sensational! Buyers were able to survey and network with local producers to increase their purchasing of sustainable healthy foods, and community partners shared their knowledge on the local food system by discussing the current programs in place to support these efforts.
The Good Food Showcase, formerly known as the Let’s Go Local! Produce Showcase, is put on by CHIP each year in an effort to support the local food system. Through this event, sustainable growers and good food producers are able to network with buyers representing different institutions such as hospitals, school districts, etc. CHIP fosters the growth of beneficial, long-lasting business relationships between local producers and buyers, and through the Good Food Showcase works to expand a healthy, sustainable community and local economy.
Attendees from the Showcase were surveyed to assess the impacts this event has had on their sales spanning just four short months since the event, and here are the results:
Initial survey results show growers and exhibitors reporting increased sales by a collective
- The majority of attendees, both buyers as well as exhibitors, reported that they had, “Established or strengthened valuable business and community relationships” as a result of their attendance.
- Six buyers reported increasing farm-to-institution programming (i.e. nutrition education, local foods marketing, etc.) as a result of their attendance.
- Additionally, four buyers have adopted policies to prioritize purchasing and serving more local foods.
Demand for locally-produced food is growing rapidly across the U.S., and the Good Food Showcase is just one of many events designed to foster this growth. Results from a recent study conducted by the USDA on Local and Regional Food Systems found that, “Industry data indicate that local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014 and estimate that the market value could hit $20 billion by 2019”. The same report goes on to assert that over 160,000 ranchers and farmers across the nation are responding to the rising consumer demand for fresh, sustainable foods by selling their products locally. Schools play a major role in fostering the expansion of farm-to-institution buying, and this is made evident through the USDA’s 2015 Farm to School Census which surveyed over 18,000 public, private, and charter schools in the United States. Results found that more than 42% of the districts surveyed said they participated in farm to school programming, which has translated into $789 million invested in local communities.
Whether representing a school district, exhibiting locally-produced lettuce, or presenting on the benefits of sustainable food growth, attendees were all welcome to enjoy one of the highlights of the event, A Taste of the Showcase! Included were tasters of fresh, healthy food samples prepared by institutional chefs & paired with locally brewed mead. The sampling added an exciting atmosphere to the event, and provided nice accompaniment to remarks made by Trish Watlington, owner of The Red Door Restaurant, Pierre Sleiman, CEO and Founder of Go Green Agriculture, and, of course, the ongoing entertainment from the tap-dancing fiddler.
CHIP would like to thank Alchemy San Diego for partnering in the production of the Good Food Showcase, as well as Coastal Roots Farm for hosting the Showcase, and the Leichtag Foundation for their generous support of CHIP Food Systems in making this annual event possible!
- CHIP’s 2016 Showcase Follow-Up Survey, collected from 2016 Showcase exhibitors