A project in northeast Iowa called “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” aims to connect local farmers with local consumers. Robert Karp is executive director of Practical Farmers of Iowa and says the project is a high priority for his group.Karp says Iowans spend up to 98-percent of their food dollars on food that comes from out of state and he hopes “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” can turn those dollars around and keep them here. Karp says if every Iowa consumer would spend five-dollars a week on locally-grown food, it would pump millions into the state’s economy and have far-reaching implications. Kamyar Enshyan is director of community projects at the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education. Enshyan says he’s been working with places like hospitals, nursing homes, colleges and restaurants to buy local produce. Of just seven institutions the group worked with in 2002, some 200-thousand dollars was spent locally on food. Enshyan calls it a local economic development strategy. The project is underway in eight counties: Black Hawk, Butler, Bremer, Tama, Grundy, Buchanan, Benton and Fayette and is working to expand statewide within two years.
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