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Demand for Local Food Outweighs Supply, Food Hubs Could Help

Moyan Brenn

Iowans have a growing appetite for locally grown and produced foods – everything from meat and dairy to fruit and vegetables. In order to try to fill that demand, food hubs are forming throughout the state.

Jan Libbey is an administrator for Healthy Harvest of North Iowa. She says food hubs are a way for small producers to meet big demand. “One producer may not be able to produce enough locally grown tomatoes for a restaurant, but if two or three producers joined forces, they would be able to.”

That’s the idea behind a food hub; farmers work together.

“Producers may not be at a very large scale, but if they can work together and pool their production, they can step up to larger production sales. Then, buyers of local produce can have one point of contact rather than five,” Libbey explains.  

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Libbey. Gary Huber, who farms near Maxwell and manages the Iowa Food Cooperative, and Andrea Evelsizer, a broker for North Iowa Fresh, also join the conversation.

Both Huber and Evelsizer are experimenting with selling produce online directly from producers to consumers. They say the most challenging part of getting a food hub together is infrastructure.

Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa