by Gabe Bullard
Louisville Metro Government has launched the Farm to Table initiative to put more locally grown food in homes, schools and restaurants. But the lack of processing infrastructure presents a challenge.
The program is led by former Courier-Journal food editor Sarah Fritschner. She’s working on creating partnerships between farmers and restaurateurs and expanding farmers’ markets.
But when it comes to selling locally-grown food, Fritscher says there’s a problem. There are not enough local facilities to chop and process meat and produce.
“There’s more beef cattle in Kentucky than any other state east of the Mississippi, and yet we have to send them to Iowa to process them because there’s no big processor here,” she says, adding that consumers are generally open to eating local food, but it’s not always easy for them to do.
“Convenience foods make it easy for people not to want to wash kale and chop it up and put it in a skillet. I wouldn’t mind if a local processor wanted to buy Kentucky kale and chop it up so that somebody could go home and dump it in a skillet, but we don’t have that yet.”
Fritschner says an increased demand for processing facilities and slaughterhouses could lead to more local facilities.