Cabarrus

Logo brands local food

Cabarrus County Food Policy Council members last week worked to fine tune the guidelines and application process for groups that could use the recently developed "Locally Grown" logo.

The potential groups that may use the logo include producers (farmers, growers, ranchers), processors (those who make products from locally grown ingredients) and handlers, restaurants and caterers who use local ingredients.

The Cabarrus County Local Food Marketing Campaign was created by the food policy council to promote local businesses that use food grown or raised in Cabarrus County. The Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on whether to adopt the council's recommendations in July.

Concord's David Kataja is the board chair of the food council's Outreach Marketing Education and Economic Development Committee.

The language at the meeting included a lot of legalese but, basically, after an application process, potential users will be granted use of the logo on the honor system, said Kataja. They will, however, have to "solemnly swear" that their products are grown locally or are made with at least 50 percent local ingredients.

"What we're trying to do is increase the demand for things grown in Cabarrus County," said Kataja. "Once the logo is known and people try the various products with this stamp - and as it becomes more popular - we hope farmers will be encouraged to continue production, and it may even entice people to take up farming."

The council was created in 2010 to help identify and strengthen the connections between food, health, natural resource protection, economic development and the agricultural community.

"Not only are we trying to support farming as a profession, as an economic contributor, but we also want to get what we consider good, healthy food into the kitchen, pantries and bellies of Cabarrus County residents," said Kataja. "The more opportunities there are to find locally grown food, the more we'll all start eating it and, hopefully, getting healthier in the process."

Brent Barbee, farm manager on the six-generation Barbee Farms in Concord, said the symbol will ensure consumers they are buying a local product and contributing to the local economy.

He said he would like for the logo to encompass only Cabarrus County residents and businesses, but said it's a catch-22 because Cabarrus doesn't have enough food supply.

"We'll eventually need to be partner and work with Rowan, Mecklenburg and other counties," said Barbee.

Initially, the logo is expected to be exclusive to Cabarrus County residents and businesses, but Kataja said he hopes a regionally grown logo can be adopted within the next five years.

"For the logo to have the most immediate impact, food must be grown on farms in Cabarrus County," said Kataja. "But if handlers are sourcing the item from Cabarrus County, they also can use logo. The logo is very distinctive but very adaptable."

The Food Policy Council meets the second Thursday of each month. Details: localfood.cabarruscounty.us.

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