By MATTHEW WEAVER
A food summit will discuss possible new marketing channels for farmers.
The Palouse-Clearwater Food Summit 2.0 meets from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 28 at the 1912 Center, 412 E. Third St. in Moscow, Idaho.
Cinda Williams, University of Idaho Latah County Extension educator, said researchers have found a demand for local food as they talked with people in the area.
"We don't have enough under production to even meet that perceived demand," she said, adding that opportunities may exist for current growers to increase production or transition to new products and for new people to get into farming.
Opportunities include possible processing facilities and food hubs in Latah County and Lewiston, Idaho. A UI team of researchers is also looking at the feasibility of processing livestock in the region, Williams said.
A committee is discussing that possibility, Williams said.
A UI faculty working group, Idaho Food and Economic Development, is looking at how to help the local food system movement develop.
Williams hopes to reach out to more farmers and food buyers, including restaurateurs. Restaurant operators' feedback is important because they have a direct line to customer interest, Williams said.
"If they're increasing their purchasing or having barriers for buying from producers, we need to look at how that affects producers," she said. "Every piece of the puzzle has to be aware of the other things going on that will either enhance or prevent a strong local food system."
The ultimate goal is to increase the number of marketing opportunities to restaurants and grocery stores.
Williams expects 40-50 people at the meeting. She hopes to organize a local food coalition composed of representatives of the different groups to continue efforts in Nez Perce, Latah, Whitman and Asotin counties following the gathering.
Contact Cinda Williams at 208-883-2267 or firstname.lastname@example.org