American Royal starts institute to promote locally produced food

Thanks to Sara Shepherd and the Kansas City Star for allowing us to post this.

By SARA SHEPHERD

The Kansas City Star

Posted on Tue, Feb. 23, 2010 10:41 PM

Read more: American Royal starts institute to promote locally produced food – KansasCity.com

After several years of planning, the American Royal is launching the Good Food Good Futures Institute, an initiative designed to link farms, food and health.  The institute´s goal is to get locally produced food onto mainstream grocery store shelves, restaurant tables, school cafeteria trays and health agendas nationwide, institute leaders said.

“We´re going to reorganize agriculture, starting from the point of consumption back,” said Neal Patterson, chief executive officer of Cerner Corp. and a lifetime American Royal  director. Patterson helped develop the institute along with David Ball of Ball´s Food Stores, Diana Endicott of Good Natured Family Farms, and Bill Crooks, co-founder of PB&J Restaurants. Crooks, who will serve as executive director of the institute, said challenges securing local products to serve in his restaurants, especially in winter, inspired him to push for a better system.  That means spreading business models that will help small farmers – the kind who practice earth- and animal-friendly farming and ranching techniques – make money in a market where big business often crowds them out.

Ball and Endicott said their partnership and the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign are proof that such relationships can succeed. Patterson said the American Royal´s leadership in this area makes sense because the nonprofit organization had been involved in innovating and judging agriculture for more than 100 years.  The heartland location also makes the Royal an ideal home for the institute, he said, adding that it eventually could become a national educational resource.

The institute will kick off March 2 and 3 with the Farm, Food & Health Conference at the American Royal center in the West Bottoms area of Kansas City. Topics will include the power of buying locally grown foods cooperatively, how health is affected through food, and cafeterias´ and hospitals´ demand for local products.

Dinner will feature antibiotic- and hormone-free beef and locally raised free-range chicken – barbecued, of course.  The conference is being planned with the Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition, an independent initiative supported by KC Healthy Kids.  “It is difficult to make long-term changes to the food system without business engagement,” said Gretchen Kunkel, president of KC Healthy Kids. “New models of business, especially as they relate to distribution and supply of healthier, more local foods, will require capital and innovation, and a portion of that will come from the private sector.” 

Farm, Food & Health Conference

When: March 2-3

Where: American Royal center, 1701 American Royal Court in KC´s West Bottoms

Registration: www.americanroyal.com

To reach Sara Shepherd, call 816-234-4366 or send e-mail to sshepherd@kcstar.com.

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