Kentucky Food Economy

Downs, Jere. 2014  Slow Money Movement Links Local Farmers, Investors. The Courier Journal, June 19: 1-3.


This article outlines how investors and small, local farming enterprises have attained funding despite the economic incentives given to large corporate ownership while leaving small farmers to fend for themselves. Slow Money, is a recent movement where investors are turning their attention and their money toward local markets instead of to national or multinational companies that are arguably a safer bet. Smaller businesses, which generally operate on slim margins, face much more instability and by the nature of their size are looked on less favorably especially in the eyes of lenders. The Slow Money movement aims to level the playing field between small-scale and large-scale farmers in order to supply the demand for locally grown food and goods in a more efficient way. By giving small farmers who have not yet accumulated enough capital to buy expensive machinery or equipment a loan, they are giving the farmers the chance they need to expand their business and compete with the larger players in the Kentucky food industry.


Futamura, Taro. 2007 Made in Kentucky : The Meaning of “Local” Food Products in Kentucky’s Farmers’ Markets. The Japanese Journal of American Studies 18: 209–227. (19 pages)


This survey of local food production in Kentucky set out to document the way that Kentucky agriculture has shifted since declining use of its major agricultural product, tobacco, led to reduced demand. The response was to raise alternative agricultural products such a produce and meats and sell them in conjunction with Community Supported Agriculture or to participate in farmer’s markets instead of selling on the wholesale market, which has contributed to Kentucky’s burgeoning local market. Many other studies and reports have detailed this change but have neglected to define what kind of food products are being grown and where as well as how foods are branded as “locally produced” in Kentucky. The Kentucky Proud label shows up at nearly every local food establishment and it gives local food the sort of visibility and distinctiveness it needs to catch the eyes of the consumers dutifully looking for it.


Gustafson, Alison, Jay W. Christian, Sarah Lewis, Kate Moore, and Stephanie Jilcott. 2013  Food venue choice, consumer food environment, but not food venue availability within daily travel patterns are associated with dietary intake among adults, Lexington Kentucky 2011. Nutrition Journal 12, no. 1: 17:1-12. (13 Pages)

Gustafson et al conducted a study of food consumption habits of Lexington, KY residents of high socioeconomic status. Participants were asked to name a primary and secondary food venue, the type of venue (i.e. supermarket, supercenter, specialty stores, etc.), and the frequency at which they shopped there. The study also called for them to wear a GPS device that logged their daily food activities, which recorded their traveling and purchasing habits over three different days of the week. The findings showed that there was not a significant association between space and food venue availability, as individuals traveled to venues that only met their needs or preferences regardless of nutritional benefit. Seventy-six percent of participants shopped primarily at a supermarket, and consumed an average of seven fruits and eight vegetables per day. Gustafson et al conclude that the report does not show that living closer to a particular food venue leads to shopping at that venue, but propose conducting further research with a larger sample size of individuals varying in socioeconomic status.


Kentucky Nutrition Education Programs (KYNEP). 2013 Annual Report. Lexington: University of Kentucky College of Agriculture,     Food, and Environment, Cooperative Extension Service pages)


This is a short informational bulletin from the Cooperative Extension Service. It gives a brief description of the Kentucky Nutrition Education Programs, which teach people how to make healthier food choices, as well as skills such as gardening and food preservation. The program in Kentucky is carried out through University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service, and encompasses the USDA’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Infographics provide information about health and economic impacts of food insecurity in Kentucky, as well as statistics on the 3,046 adults and 232,192 children who benefited from NEP programs in 2013 and the ways in which the program has affected their lives.


Kentucky Agricultural Development Board and Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corporation. 2012   Annual Report Fiscal Year 2012. Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy. (24 pages)


This report details the Kentucky Agriculture Development Fund’s top priorities. The primary purpose of this fund is to provide Kentucky farmers with access to capital through loans. Investments in the form of loans to farmers are broken down into various programs such as beginning farmers or agricultural processing. Additionally, the report presents investments in local food initiatives such as farmers’ markets and the Governor’s Garden program. The report breaks down loan initiatives by participating county. In FY 12, the Fund invested $22 million in various state, regional, and local projects and programs.


Meehan, Mary. 2012 Lexington Church’s Produce Program Shares With Those Most in Need. Lexington Herald Leader, July 30. 659 words.

In this article, Meehan describes a Fresh Stop in Lexington, Kentucky that was started by Julia Hofmeister in 2009. She defines a Fresh Stop as “a community supported agriculture program with a charitable twist,” (Meehan 2012). Similar to those in Louisville, this Fresh Stop in Lexington provides produce to individuals weekly throughout the summer growing season. Meehan states that 25% of the Fresh Stop participants live in ‘food deserts’ and thus only pay around $10 for their share. The other 75% pay slightly more to cover the difference. Sixty-six families currently participate in this program, many of whom are referred by Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky Refugee Ministries. This demonstrates the need in the community for this type of program and it also highlights the importance of non-profit organizations working together. Hofmeister made an interesting point about the fluctuating participation in this program, noting that many families who get their weekly produce share simply don’t know how to prepare the food. Perhaps there is a need in the community for classes on healthy food preparation. This article would be helpful for those wishing to compare the efficacy of the Lexington Fresh Stop program and the Louisville Fresh Stop program. What factors are affecting Lexington’s dwindling Fresh Stop participation? What factors have contributed to the Louisville Fresh Stop program’s success? This article may help answer these questions. It might also be helpful for those simply wishing to learn more about the different ways to run a Fresh Stop.


McQueen, Sarah. 2011 Predictors of Food Bank Usage among those with Low Food Security: Analysis of the Current Population Survey Food Supplement Data. University of Kentucky, MPA/MOO Capstone Projects. (28 pages)

McQueen extracted data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) regarding food security in order to use it in this study to compare the demographics of people who frequented food banks with those who did not. This was done in order to show potential predictors of food bank usage. McQueen gives some background information regarding what food security in the past looked. She then explains the CPS data she collected in her survey. The majority of the households responded saying that they have enough food available but not always the kind or quality of food desired. 5% responded by saying they often do not have enough food to eat. She found that income levels and homeownership (or lack thereof) appeared to be strong indicators of food bank usage. This could be a useful source for anyone looking to understand and “predict” food bank users or the users of any other emergency food service, and to identify possible methods for assisting folks to reduce the likelihood that these people who have to resort to an emergency food support program.


Tanaka, Keiko, and Patrick H. Mooney. 2010  Public Scholarship and Community Engagement in Building Community Food Security: The Case of the University of Kentucky. Rural Sociology 75.4:560-583. (25 pages)

Sociologists Tanaka and Mooney detail their ongoing project to teach University of Kentucky students about the local agro-food system through a project called the Lexington Community Food Assessment. Over the course of six years, a total of eighty students, ranging from freshmen to Ph.D. candidates, conducted fieldwork and engaged with the Lexington community, taking a sociological approach to researching food access as a social problem. The authors outline each phase of the project, which included gathering data on food desert locations, conducting interviews at food retailers, and composing individual research proposals.


Williamson, Sara, Timothy Woods, and Wuyang Hu. 2009 The Kentucky Food Consumer: An Insight into Our Perceptions and Behaviors in Relationship to Food Purchasing and Consumption. Lexington. Report.

The goal of this survey is to collect and compile food data in Kentucky in order to streamline the production and distribution of local foods in an attempt to localize consumption in the state. Several of these surveys have been completed and their results have been published, as the consumer survey has been adapted to various productive sectors within food production in Kentucky such as bourbon and fresh produce. The present survey report includes: demographics, food behavior data, vegetable and other product consumption patterns. The report also includes data on individual farmers’ market participation as well as food production and education practices. The ultimate objective is to coalesce pertinent information such as demographics and consumption patterns in order to target areas of the local food market that are needed and desired by citizens. The reports also serve communities in identifying points of weakness in the local food system that can be addressed at the community level.


Woods, Tim, Matt Ernst, and Jeffrey Herrington. 2006  Kentucky Restaurant Produce Buyer Survey. Lexington: Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Kentucky. (9 pages)

Researched and written by students in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Kentucky, this short work provides the results of a survey conducted among Kentucky restaurant chefs and owners regarding locally sourced products. The results indicate that many Kentucky restaurants are interested in featuring locally grown produce on their menus, and list the specific products they would like to acquire and serve. Included in this study are the barriers restaurant owners experience when trying to buy from local growers. The obstacles mentioned could help growers cater the production of their products to demand. Kentucky farmers and growers would benefit from the information provided by this survey for refining the production, marketing, and distribution of their products to local restaurants.


Woods, Timothy, Hileman, Miranda, and Yang, Bruce (Shang-Ho). 2013 “Impact of the ‘Farms to Food Banks’ Produce Sourcing Project” UK      Cooperative Extension Service Report. University of Kentucky Department of Agricultural Economics. ​(10 pages)

The authors seek to gauge the effectiveness of the Kentucky Association of Food Banks’ “Farms to Food Banks” program in allowing poorer Kentuckians access to fresh produce. This project also aimed to increase awareness of fresh foods among food bank users. Research was conducted through individual interviews with customers at one of three food banks which serve nine food pantries across the state. Results indicated that people going to food banks were happy to have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and that many would like to see an even greater selection in the future. Cost was the most common reason people gave for not having previously made healthier food choices. The study shows that overcoming this barrier (cost) can increase the intake of fresh produce among low-income consumers. This report highlights the major barriers for low-income people in regards to acquiring fresh produce, and gives statistics showing the impact of the “Farm to Food Banks” program on public awareness and knowledge of fresh produce. It also gives suggestions for future food projects and policies: cooking classes, exploring the use of food banks in the long-term and their effects on eating habits, etc. This report would be useful to anyone wishing to study the influence of food programs on the eating habits and awareness levels of those who utilize them.


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