Texas Center for Local Food
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  • 06 Apr 2017 6:16 AM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Grow Local South Texas is putting south Texas sustainable and organic farming on the map!  The Texas Center for Local Food joined them recently for their local food conference.  With excellent and committed partners, Grow Local South Texas is increasing awareness and access of locally grown sustainable food and perhaps most importantly, helping farmers grow their businesses.  Check out these two videos!

    2017 Local Producers' Conference video

    About GROW Local South Texas

  • 17 Mar 2017 8:17 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    You've probably heard of South by Southwest and I'll bet you think of music.  Yep, lots of music for sure.  But did you know that before the music fest begins, there is the SXSW Interactive (and Film too)?  Interactive is packed with innovative perspectives on the use of tech in our world and I've been told that it's actually the largest of the 3 SXSW Festivals.  For me, Interactive is a chance to dive into the out of the box world and get my head into new ways to solve the problems we face as farmers, rural communities, and food system changers.  What does tech have to do with it?  It’s not just tech - it's ways of thinking - taking our questions and problems and looking to other industries for ideas, answers and solutions.

    In these next few posts, I'll write my impressions and share what I've learned.  As with any conference and certainly any investment of time and money, it's a good idea to know what you want to get out of it.

    Our queries going to into SXSW-I 2017:
    1. Know Your Farmer.  Are there ways we can employ tech to make it easier for thousands of people to know their farmer?  We know that when folks spend time on a farm they have a stronger connection to their food.  We know that connection to our food is a critical step in owning our own health and leads to improving our food system.   Recent advances in virtual reality technology (VR) may make it possible to conduct remote farms tours.  Could people experience a farm remotely using VR?  What about online interactive video (Skype, Nom)?   What are the possibilities and costs here?
    2. What new tech is available to make cooking easier, faster for middle class families?
    3. Storytelling is key to engaging people with their food and farmers and ranchers.  How can we better storytellers?  How can we facilitate farmers/ranchers being good storytellers?  How do we know if our stories are heard and are effective?
    4. For the Elgin Local Food Center (ELF Center), what tech is available for equipment and business education for food businesses?
    5.  Are there specific revenue streams for the ELF Center that we haven’t already considered?

    Tomorrow, I'll start looking for answers.. and I'll surely find new questions too.

  • 10 Mar 2017 8:54 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Day 1, Friday, March 10, 2017

    Keynote by Senator Cory Booker:  His message to get to work, focus and share the love was of course inspiring.  I thought the huge ballroom would be packed and it was mostly full, but not packed so that was a little discouraging.  Senator Booker did mention food in his speech.  He made reference to the critical task of fixing our “broken food system”.  Although I don’t personally describe our food system as “broken” (it works perfectly well for those it was built to benefit),  it certainly is a good thing when the work of improving food systems is mentioned by a national figure.  I’m personally pleased that the term “food system” is entering mainstream language and I think that’s a big win for farmers and ranchers and farm/food advocates across our country.  View Senator Booker’s SXSW speech here.

    Richard Garriott gave a short talk to announce his new book Explore/Create.  Garriott loves many things and has a focus and perseverance that I think is quite rare among tech people.  He also demonstrates a keen awareness that most people don't have loads of money.  He talked about his famous trip to space and also explained that the price is coming down - OK, so it's still a lot more than a bus ride across town... but it's moving down!  My take away from his talk was akin to the philosophy of Ben Franklin - approach every new project with what Franklin called "a beginner's mind".  Be open, explore.. create.  [As an aside, Garriott was very, very supportive when I was helping start Austin Free-Net back in 1995 - in part due to his support, Austin Free-Net today continues to support access to technology and training for all people in Austin].

    Surgeon General Vivek Murthy was the highlight of my day and the session where I began to see direct links to our food system economics work.   Dr. Murthy spoke with such ease and clarity about what he sees as a major healthcare issue for Americans – “an epidemic of chronic stress”.   He talked of the many causes even beyond those we might expect:  job, money, family, traffic.  He said that even once those basic needs are met, the data show that Americans feel isolated and lonely.  The impact of stress is huge on our health and is a primary driver behind poor health and chronic disease.  I didn’t know that chronic stress contributes to inflammation, which is something that affects many people I know.

    Dr. Murthy spoke directly to the emotional pain that afflicts so many Americans.  Even with social media tech we are feeling more isolated than ever – and feeling isolated is a huge contributor to chronic stress.  What to do about isolation?  Connections matter and according to Dr. Murthy, it’s the quality of the connections that matters most.  The highest quality connections are those that are mutually beneficial.  [TCLF Question #1:  How can we create high quality, mutually beneficial connections between people to the farmers/ranchers who grow their food?]

    My big “ah-hah moment” came when Dr. Murthy shared a study on the benefits of contemplative practices, the “ACES study”.  Students were taught mindfulness practices and while they mocked them at first, after only 2 weeks of twice daily meditation, the teachers found the hallways quieter and after 1 year the suspension rate dropped by 45% and after 2 years by 95%; teacher absence rates plummeted and students grades came up.

    So add contemplative practices to the list of good health drivers, in addition to healthy food, good sleep, physical activity, and quality social connection. 

    At the Texas Center for Local Food we work closely with the Elgin school district to increase the consumption of healthy foods and we are part of a central Texas group to improve general access to healthy food.   This session gave me a clearer sense of how our work dovetails and complements other work by Elgin and other school districts to improve overall student and family wellness.

  • 04 Feb 2017 1:26 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    assembly room full of about 70 people

    Sue Beckwith represented the Texas Center for Local Food at the Grow Local South Texas Producers' Conference on Feb. 2.  The day long conference organized by past TOFGA Board member, Aislynn Campbell and the Grow South Texas team, was packed with excellent speakers and panel dicussions.

    The focus was on wholesale buying and panels included HEB, Natural Grocer, and the Corpus Christi school district.  The idea for the wholesale focus was to begin educating south Texas growers about the opportunities and challenges of the wholesale market channel.   Check out the annotated agenda and links to South Texas resources here.  Sue made lots of good connections and will follow up with folks interested in the work we're doing with USDA Food LINC and value-added processing,

  • 31 Jan 2017 1:55 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Jerry Eason of Eva Mae's KitchenJerry Eason and Sue Beckwith in Elgin and Sue Beckwith of the Texas Center for Local Food attended the Taste of Black Austin on January 31.  This first of its kind event highlighted the history of black food entrepreneurs and showcased wonderful food from today's black food entrepreneurs.  The well attended event was put on by the Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce.  The Texas Center for Local Food is honored to have been gifted our sponsorship by Food for Black Thought.

  • 30 Dec 2016 3:54 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Did you know that members are listed in our Texas Local Food Business Directory?  Yes indeed.  All members at these levels get listed in our Business Directory:  Business/Organization, Farms/Ranches, Founders, and Premier members. 

    If you're not a member, then join today and get listed in the Business Directory automatically!

  • 30 Dec 2016 2:40 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    See you at the TOFGA conference in Mesquite Jan. 14-17.  Register at the TOFGA.org

  • 27 Dec 2015 1:48 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    Elgin ISD has received a planning grant from the USDA to begin planning a farm-to-school program.  Look for more information as we roll through 2016!

  • 26 Dec 2015 1:59 PM | Sue Beckwith (Administrator)

    The City of Elgin received a grant from the USDA to pilot the ELF Business Center.  The $95,000 grant will pay for technical assistance to develop the supply necessary to support a full time food processing center in Elgin.  The 18-month project begins October 1, 2015 and will continue for 18 months.

Texas Center for Local Food, Elgin, Texas                                                            

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