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How does the local food system in Lexington, KY compare to other similar sized cities?

By Jairus Rossi, Assistant Research Professor, CEDIK

There are many aspects to a local food economy. Local foods are distributed through various market channels and community food activities, as well as supported through an assortment of branding and promotional activities. Recent surveys of consumers in Lexington, KY were conducted parallel to a national survey on perceived performance of various aspects of local food systems (LFS).

Overall, Lexington has been scored higher than its peer cities. LFS components where Lexington scored the highest in absolute terms include local brewery promotion, farmers markets, and CSAs. Lower performance scores were associated with retail and farm to school.

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A closer examination of the market channel measures reveal that Lexington performs better in market channels where there is direct farmer to consumer contact (CSAs, Food Trucks, Coop Grocery, Restaurants, Farmers Markets).  “Farm to School” and “Retail” are market channels that are mediated by distributors; Lexington consumers perceive these channels as less supportive of local farm products.

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Lexington consumers also perceive that there is better than average support for the local food system across several measures, and this perception is higher than consumer perceptions in other comparable small cities.

Further survey work and analysis continues. Additional information may be obtained from the author. This survey was funded in part by the UK Food Connection, the Kentucky Horticulture Council, the UK Food Systems Innovation Center, and a UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Research Activity Award.

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