Report Shows Impact of Local Foods in Northwest Iowa

Photo of produce in bins

Flavors of Northwest Iowa helped collect the data in cooperation with the statewide Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG), which supports local food efforts in 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture coordinated the evaluation for one of the first statewide attempts to measure actual impacts of the local food industry on Iowa’s economy.

The evaluation tracked local food purchases by grocery stores, restaurants and institutions, and sales from Iowa farm-based enterprises that marketed their products locally in 2012. Nearly 180 businesses and individuals participated in the data collection effort, including 74 buyers and 103 producers of local foods. The evaluation also measured job creation as a result of local food production, processing or utilization, and counted funds leveraged by the regional food groups that comprise the statewide RFSWG network.

Chad and Keely Dutler of Shrimp 59 LLC credit the demand for local food with bringing them “back to the farm” and closer to their family. Local food group Flavors of Northwest Iowa has further promoted their company’s success.

The Dutlers sell their produce at the Sioux City Farmers Market, whose customers, they noticed, were looking to stay local with their purchases. The Dutlers wanted to move a high volume of shrimp each week and reasoned that word of mouth would help their product become popular in the area.

The Dutlers became familiar with Flavors of Northwest Iowa through the farmers market. In August 2013, the local food group invited them to be part of a farm-to-fork tour for Ida County. Tour participants learned about Shrimp 59’s beginnings and heard what happened on a typical day at the farm as they toured the facility.

The following day, several participants stopped by the Dutlers’ booth at the farmers market to say how much they’d enjoyed the tour. They appreciated the sweet taste and texture of the Dutlers’ shrimp and wanted to buy more.

“Word of mouth travels well through Flavors of Northwest Iowa,” said Chad of the experience. “It seems to be our best way to advertise!”

Get more details in this report, The Economic Impact of Iowa’s Local Food Champions: Flavors of Northwest Iowa.

The statewide report, 2012 Economic Impacts of Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group, is available by title on the Leopold Center website at: www.leopold.iastate.edu/local-food

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