Live from the White House: Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson will be joined by six experts during 3:00 PM event...
President Obama visited Berry's Produce in Mechanicsville, Virginia on Saturday, buying some lovely fresh produce at the family-owned farm stand. It was perfect timing: The White House will be spotlighting local foods tomorrow, Tuesday, July 17, when Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Jon Carson, the White House Director of Public Engagement, host a special Google+ Hangout. The 3:00 PM EDT event celebrates an update to USDA's Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Compass, which was first unveiled in March of this year. (Above: Merrigan visiting a Virginia farm in 2009 during the launch of the Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative)
The massive interactive web-based tool/document includes maps, studies, data sets, and video stories from farmers, ranchers, food producers and communities that highlight USDA's support for local and regional food projects.
"The 2.0 version features thousands of local food projects in all 50 states and includes keyword and zip code search features," Merrigan wrote in a post on the White House blog.
Watch the Hangout on WhiteHouse.gov/live, or on the White House Google+ page. Questions can be submitted during the event and ahead of it (now) on the White House Google+ Page, on Twitter @WhiteHouse using the hashtag #WHHangout, OR HERE. On Twitter, the Department of Agriculture is @USDA; Carson is @joncarson44.
"Local food is about the products that farmers and ranchers grow and raise," Merrigan wrote. "It’s about the businesses that bring food from farms to our tables, and efforts to connect consumers with producers like farm to school and agritourism. It’s about the sense of pride behind campaigns like “Buy Fresh, Buy Local,” “Appalachian Grown,” or “Idaho Preferred” that let consumers know their food dollar is flowing back into their local economy."
Six women working on a wide variety of local food initiatives from across the US will join Merrigan and Carson at the White House. They are Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, MD, who created the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative; Cory Carman of Carman Ranch in Oregon; Chris Kirby, who coordinates a Farm to School program on behalf of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture; Susan Noble, Executive Director of the Vernon Economic Development Association (VEDA) in Wisconsin, Pamela Roy, Executive Director of Farm to Table in Albuquerque, NM; and Valerie Segrest, Director of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, a member of the Muckelshoot Indian Tribe near Seattle, WA.
Click here for an interview with Sec. Merrigan about the Compass.
See also this post about USDA's Guide to Regional Food Hubs, a book created by the agency to "bolster the expansion of market opportunities for small and mid-sized American producers."
*Photo by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama