Tuesday, March 12

Sustainable South: Marketing Louisiana Heritage-Based Foods

 Emilie Dayan, our office intern, will be blogging regularly about issues of nutrition, sustainability, and food policy in the South.

In 2005, Northern Arizona University in conjunction with Slow Food USA published a booklet entitled, “Linking Arizona’s Sense of Place to a Sense of Taste: Marketing the Heritage Value of Arizona’s Place-Based Foods.” The book explains how communities can capitalize upon local and heritage-based foods for economic and community development.

Throughout the book, the authors repeatedly cite Southern foods and their inextricable links to Southern identity as an example that Arizona should follow. In doing so, the authors give evidence of an enormous market for so-called "geographically indicated" foods (GIs)—that is, foods that are associated with the specific place where they are grown or made. (Vidalia onions from Georgia are a good example.)

Here in the South, similar ideas are taking hold. The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana sees the potential in marketing a sense of place with their agricultural products. They currently own about 6,000 acres of land in Allen and Jefferson Davis parishes, much of which is used for crawfish, rice, and cattle farming. The tribe's department of commerce is co-hosting an Agri-Business Marketing Conference on Tuesday, March 19, in the town of Elton. Issues to be discussed include agricultural trends in Southwest Louisiana; farmers’ markets; agricultural tourism and marketing; the Coushatta Tribe’s hydroponic gardening project and long-leaf pining operation; and successful 4-H and Future Farmers of America efforts in Allen Parish and Jeff Davis Parish. Mike Strain, the Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, is the event's keynote speaker.

This half-day conference is open to the public, with a $10 registration fee. It will take place at the Coushatta Multi-Purpose Complex, 1974 C.C. Bel Road in Elton, La.  For more information, please visit the Coushatta Tribe website.