By Maureen Hayden, CNHI statehouse reporter
INDIANAPOLIS — All the grains in Mary Bratcher’s Indiana-packaged Amber Waves granola comes from Indiana farms, but the local foods activist stops short of labeling it as “Indiana Grown.”
Two minor ingredients, salt and butter, come from elsewhere. So, Bratcher uses a logo, issued by the state Department of Agriculture, with the words “Prepared in Indiana.”
A former sales executive with an international food company, Bratcher thinks the distinction is critical.
“The market for locally sourced foods is growing so fast, we have to be different to compete,” she said. “Transparency in labeling is key to that.”
Labeling may also be the key to growing “Indiana Grown,” the statewide initiative aimed at promoting agriculture right here at home. Created by state legislation, the program was developed by the Agriculture Department as a means of tapping a movement that puts a premium on the proximity of food sources. It’s not an easy task. Indiana’s 60,000 farms cover 15 million acres and produce an array of food, from pork to mint. But less than 10 percent of the $16 billion that Hoosiers spend on food from comes from within the state’s borders, said Indiana Grown director David King.
“If we spent even just a little more of our food budget on Indiana-produced food, we’d be bringing billions of dollars back into the state and back into the hands of Indiana farmers and producers,” he said.
Indiana is late to the local food movement. More than 35 other states already have similar branding programs aimed at creating and boosting a market for products grown, made and processed near home.
Note: This Old Farm signed on as one of the first Indiana Grown members when the project originally launched several years ago. We are pleased to see the current support to the project through relaunch of the Indiana Grown branding campaign by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.