SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Smell the vegetables. Squeeze the fruits. Select the freshest foods to put on the table. That’s what we do at the farmers market. For the farmers, though, the farmers market can take hours away from the primary task of producing these items.
One way to eliminate this downtime is to have someone else market the food, according to Missouri State University’s Dr. Arbindra Rimal. He completed a feasibility study of establishing a food hub, a marketplace that connects producers with professional food buyers, such as schools, grocery stores and end consumers — in south-central Missouri.
“There’s a huge demand for locally produced food, and buyers are willing to buy locally grown vegetables and livestock products and pay a premium for them as long as producers comply with certain requirements,” said Rimal, interim department head of agribusiness, education and communications in the Darr College of Agriculture.
What producers and buyers want
So is a food hub feasible in this region? Absolutely, according to the findings of Rimal’s study.
The majority of producers expressed interest in selling through a food hub. Of course there are challenges, such as investment of time and money to comply with buyers’ requirements or use more technology for year-round yield, Rimal noted. But he believes the benefits of a food hub outweigh the costs.
For farmers, a food hub means less waste, greater productivity and assurance of sales and time savings.
For consumers, a food hub offers easier access to a larger variety of fresh healthy foods all year long and the opportunity to support local and regional food systems. This means they contribute to environmental sustainability.
“We don’t have to eat produce that’s being shipped from thousands of miles away or from another country,” said Rimal. “We can help improve the lives of local farmers and decrease our own carbon footprint.”
— Missouri State Darr College of Agriculture
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