Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I is for Illinois Local, Food, Farms, and Jobs Council

Local Food Lobby Day in Springfield

Awareness and demand for local foods continues to grow across America. However, as is often the case with new trends, peoples' longing to know more about the "where?" and "by whom" of their food began on the coasts with the mid-western states lagging behind.

This Illinois' local food movement picked up the pace in the late nineties as Angelic Organics farm grew into one of the largest and most iconic CSA's in the country and nationally know chefs like Rick Bayless committed to sourcing from local farmers.

Things really took off in 2006, when Debbie Hillman of the Evanston Food Policy Council, approached then State Representative Julie Hamos (now IL director of Health Care and Family Services) about the concerns her urban constituents had about food and farming issues. From this initial discussion, legislation was drafted (titled the Illinois Local and Organic Food Farms and Jobs Act), and a statewide coalition formed to press for it's passage.

I joined the effort at the behest of Kendall Thu an anthropology professor at Northern Illinois University who had joined our CSA the previous year. I joined conference calls with local food proponents from throughout the state, called my representatives, and spread the word to all our farm contacts to support the effort. In 2007, the act passed and the Illinois Local Foods Farm and Jobs Task Force was formed.

The task force spent a year working on a comprehensive document to present to the legislature that detailed the state of local food in Illinois and recommendations for building the local food economy in Illinois. In 2009, the report generated follow-on legislation establishing the Illinois Local, Food, Farms, and Jobs Council.

I have served as a council director since 2010.

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