Food Entrepreneurs: Change is Here

Nutrition label

Photo (CC) by USDA, on Flickr

If you are a food entrepreneur, or foodpreneur as sometimes reference, there has been a change in your world. The rules governing what goes on your nutritional label are changing.

Consumers are more and more using this label. The changes being made will provide them with more useful information.

The Oklahoma State University Food and Agricultural Products Center has posted an article regarding these changes. They also have a short (1 minute) highlight video.

You can also find information on these changes from the USDA Food and Drug Administration here.

Keep your business on the right side of these regulatory changes.

Field to Fork: Growing, Processing and Selling Local Food Safely

Farm workerThere are two big food movements currently going on in this country.

The first, the one we all have heard of, is that of local foods. Every state has some sort of activity going on. More and more people are enjoying getting fresh food from local producers. It’s great to get food ripened in the great outdoors and brought to us at its peak of freshness and taste.

The second movement we also have heard much about, although not lately. That issue is food safety. It arises most often when something happens somewhere in the process and people suffer. No one wants that to happen. Regulations have been passed and laws made but sometimes such events still occur.

It is important for anyone in the system, from growers through distributors and merchants, to do everything possible to keep our food supply safe. And that responsibility continues right on to the consumer to do his or her part.

With those thoughts in mind, Field to Fork, an effort of Julie Garden-Robinson of North Dakota State University Extension, was development of information on building a successful local foods business along with making sure the products stay safe throughout the process.

Check out the videos offering a variety of tips, including those for food safety.

And good luck.


Small Farmers Can Make Food Safety Work: The GroupGAP Pilot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Photo by Lance Cheung.

Photo by Lance Cheung.

As spring arrives, access to local foods will be once again be on the mind of consumers.  And one of the things they will be asking is about food safety. The Michigan State Center for Regional Food Systems shares their report on a food safety pilot project they tried.  Thanks to Mary Zumbrunnen, Richard Pirog, Michelle Walk, Phil Britton, Phil Tocco and Natasha Lantz for their work and for sharing the report.

Those of us working in local food  know how important food safety has become to farmers, food hubs, and food buyers; we all want to have safe food and we also want small farmers to continue to have access to a variety of direct and intermediate food markets.  This case study (link below) provides an overview of the processes, challenges, benefits, and lessons learned from the Group Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) pilot project in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan.

The project goal was to test how a group-based farm-based food safety certification process could benefit small farmers.  The U.P. GroupGAP pilot project and this publication is a cooperative project led by the U.P. Food Exchange, MSU Extension, Marquette Food Coop, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) and the Wallace Center at Winrock International.  Partial funding to support this pilot project came from the USDA Speciality Crop Block Grant program (administered by MDARD) – provided to MIFFS. Other funding sources include the U.P. Food Exchange, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Special thanks also goes to Cherry Capital Foods.

Food Safety at Farmers’ Markets

Farmers' Market

Photo by USDA

Food safety is on the radar screen for today’s consumer. The popular press regularly brings stories about issues of potential concern.

As a local food producer, farmers and other value-added entities are very aware of the need to provide a safe food product. One of the marketing points that many of you use relates to the idea of knowing your local producer and how that influences the feelings of food safety.

So how can you best ensure that the food you are providing continues to be safe for your customers? It isn’t extremely hard. It just requires understanding your production and distribution processes and then looking for where potential gaps occur where food safety issues might arise.

To help you with that Iowa State has put a free course online to help you evaluate your current systems and to put new tasks in place that will minimize the holes you find. The University of Missouri Extension system brought my attention to this great tool. I hope you find is useful.