Kentucky Going Local

The interest in local, natural and organic foods continues to grow, and Kentucky is no exception. Kentucky's population is starting to get on board with healthier and more natural foods, and several universities are doing great work around sustainable agriculture. According to Anne Hopkins, General Manager at the Good Foods Market and Cafe in Lexington,"We're seeing a good shift from wholly concentrating on big industrial to incorporating sustainability into the state's agricultural programs."

"It’s a very exciting time to be living in Lexington and Kentucky in general," Hopkins explains. "So many people in all walks of life recognize the connection between local foods, local economies and healthy bodies/environment. There are many new organizations and conversations happening in our city and all over the state that focus on local foods, local food systems and how people can make a difference around this issue." And this interest is reflected in the co-op's membership numbers---as of February 2012, Good Foods Market & Cafe, boasted over 6,000 owners.

We were lucky enough to visit Good Foods Market & Cafe (one of only two food co-ops in the entire state) back in November and see, first hand, why it's such a hit in Lexington. The store is beautiful and the incredibly friendly staff of about 115 (including Anne and Marketing Manager, Danielle Dove) are very passionate about their work. They support over 250 local producers including Casey Organic, a group of organic farmers that organized a wholesaling co-op to bring local and organic produce to the store.

The Good Foods Market was the last co-op stop on our 6 month "Real Food" Road Trip, our cross country journey and online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. After visiting food co-ops in Arkansas, Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, Maine and Florida, this seemed the perfect place to finish up the trip. We were there to do a cooking demo and talk about good food with the co-op's shoppers. Danielle Dove gave us free reign of the store to gather ingredients from their large bounty of local produce. Daniel made two salads: The first was local Lacinato kale tossed with black garlic, olives and a yogurt dressing (see Daniel's recipe for Kale Salad with Black Garlic). The second was Hakurei turnip, apple and daikon radish with Parmesan, capers and vinegar. They were bright and delicious, and a perfect celebration of local Lexington food.

Good Foods Market & Cafe goes beyond simply focusing on local foods. They don't carry anything with trans-fats, nor do they carry seafood on the Monterey Bay Aquarium's red list, or items produced using inhumane treatment of animals.  It's a great place to shop, and according to their staff, it's a great place to work. Good Foods Market & Cafe is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year…and they seem to be really living up to their name.