Elkhart County Food Council is hungry to feed appetite for local food

Elkhart County Food Council logo

From the satisfying crunch of apples in the fall to the burst in greens, reds, oranges and yellows in our salad bowls in the spring, Elkhart County farmers bring a treasure trove of fresh fruits and vegetables to the dinner table.

In summertime, you could pack your backyard grill with meat raised here, seasoned by spices and herbs cultivated here, and chase it with an ear or two of succulent sweet corn harvested — where else? — right down the street from your neighborhood.

But how many of us actually appreciate that bounty? Or even benefit from Elkhart County’s wealth of farmers and food producers.

The Elkhart County Food Council is taking on the mission of better connecting the residents of Elkhart, Goshen, Nappanee, Middlebury, Wakarusa, Bristol and the surrounding area with the fantastic diversity of locally grown food.

It’s yet another outgrowth of the Vibrant Communities Action Agenda, one of the 77 items identified by a grassroots effort of local residents to improve the quality of place here. The Action Agenda item on local food is in the Countywide section, titled Promote the Use of Local Foods and Native Plantings. It reads, in part:

“This is a broad initiative to increase public pride and awareness in native plants and locally grown or produced foods. … (T)he use and celebration of locally grown and produced foods will increase local pride, health, and understanding of sustainable food practices.”

The Elkhart County Food Council is kicking off its efforts with a presentation by noted food economist Ken Meter, who will speak on “Healthy Food, Healthy Economy and Healthy Community.” The event will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 24, at The Matterhorn Conference Center, 2041 Cassopolis Street, Elkhart. It will start with an open space event from 6 to 7 p.m. featuring exhibitors raising awareness of the diverse assets that exist in Elkhart County supporting local food systems. Meter’s presentation will follow.

Organizers of the Elkhart County Food Council are made up of local farmers, food producers, retailers and healthy living advocates and is inviting anyone interested in the impact of local food on neighborhoods, communities and businesses to get involved.

The council has identified three priority areas: food access, health and food education, and food production and economics. Among the issues they hope to address include improving the connections between farmers and customers so that produce ends up going more directly from farms to the dinner table. It also hopes to better connect restaurants and markets with farmers and to raise awareness among students and educators about what is available here.

The council welcomes all who wish to learn more and contribute to building healthier food systems in Elkhart County.

For information about the Elkhart County Food Council, or if you wish to be an exhibitor, email: foodcouncil.elkhart@gmail.com.

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