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USDA Local-Food Initiative Announced At Hollygrove Farm

Eileen Fleming

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is pushing a new shopping method called “food hubs” to get more local produce to market. Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made the announcement at the Hollygrove Market and Farm in New Orleans.

Secretary Merrigan says the Hollygrove farm, formed after Hurricane Katrina, is at the forefront of food trends in America. She says Wal-Mart recently told federal agriculture officials that 40 percent of its customers want locally grown produce.

“The National Grocers Association has a survey that shows that 85 percent of those surveyed said whether a store features local food is a factor in where people decide to shop," Merrigan said. "So this is, ladies and gentlemen, the largest food trend we have seen in decades.”   

She says federal policy encourages local farms to market directly to customers in their region. The Hollygrove farm works with 20 growers in southern Louisiana and Mississippi, and is now open five days a week.

“We have kids in schools who don’t know where their food comes from, who produced it, how it was produced, because 99 percent of America doesn’t hail from the farm or ranch. And there’s a disconnect between those who produce our food and those who consume it.”   

Chef Paul Prudhomme joined the announcement ceremony by cooking up some local produce with spices, herbs and loads of butter.  

Eileen is a news reporter and producer for WWNO. She researches, reports and produces the local daily news items. Eileen relocated to New Orleans in 2008 after working as a writer and producer with the Associated Press in Washington, D.C. for seven years.

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