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Program Post: 2013: A Research Odyssey

Local Food Research Center

Each Thursday, ASAP’s programs take you behind the scenes of their work. This month, our programs share an insider’s look back at 2013 and ahead to the new year. First, travel on a research odyssey.

From ASAP’s Local Food Research Center

With 2014 just a few short weeks away, we can’t help but be proud of all the work our Local Food Research Center (LFRC) has accomplished in 2013. We started off our year conducting interviews with some of our communities’ local food system champions and learned that everyone—farmers, food buyers, customers, and policy makers—are invested in seeing our region’s local food system thrive. We also began a large project with two local, independent grocery stores, Harold’s Supermarket in Sylva and JB’s Galaxy in Marion, to investigate the ways that shoppers react to local food labeling in the grocery store. So far, we’ve found that our Appalachian Grown certification and branding program is on the right track; you all told us that you trust local labeling when it names the farm a product came from, which is exactly what our Appalachian Grown signage provides.

Later on in the year, we had the opportunity to focus our energy on some of the deeper, more complicated, and less understood issues within local food systems research. We looked at the economic impacts of building local economies as well as equity and food access issues present in our food system. The insights we have gained so far, including the ways that the low price of food is itself a driver of poverty among workers in the food and farm industries, are already helping us develop new strategies to more effectively target resources and information to further improve our local food system. For example, we’ve been able to integrate our findings around equity, the food dollar, local food system metrics, and food waste diversion in our innovative research on the local food and farming system in the Greater Charlotte area for the CONNECT Our Future project.

Which brings us to 2014. As we continue projects with our partners at UNC-Asheville, Land of Sky Regional Council, the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center, and others, we look forward to further unraveling the hidden elements at the core of our current food system. We hope you, our greatest supporters, will continue to engage with ASAP’s work and provide input on your experiences with our local food system in Western North Carolina. That way, the research center team can continue to  ensure our area is the best place to live, work, play, and eat! Reach out to the center at


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