Mar 012012
Authors: Carrie Mobley

Ever noticed how locally grown food has become a recent trend? Well, Dawn Thilmany, an agricultural economist here at CSU, has noticed too.

In fact, she has made a career out of not only noticing, but also observing and analyzing these sorts of trends of consumption.

Thilmany got the chance to guest speak at the 2012 Agricultural Forum on Thursday and Friday.

“Farmers markets are back to being part of the social fabric of many communities,” said Thilmany in an email to the Collegian. “But I do think we will see more producers moving to wholesale channels to sell their products locally, just as we saw
New Belgium grow from being on a few taps to gradually growing a distribution network.”

The forum, which was hosted by the USDA outside of Washington, D.C. ,and also featured speakers on food price inflation and foreign competition, was designed in order to “strengthen the American agricultural economy, to revitalize rural communities, to conserve our natural resources and to provide a safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply for the American people,” according to the USDA.

And in addition to helping develop a program intended to teach young farmers production and marketing skills — even helping one participant receive a $26,000 grant from the USDA — Thilmany was also recently appointed to to a 25-member policy panel called the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education and Economics Advisory Board.

Craig Beyrouty, dean of CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, said this selection shows the trust that the department has in Thilmany’s “ability to provide sound advice on national issues of importance.”

And according to Thilmany, she already has many ideas of how to put her knowledge to good use on the committee.

“The local food movement is a great equalizer. All types of farms can participate: big or small, beginning or established, cattle or produce. So I can bring all perspectives to bear,” Thilmany said.

“More importantly, I have a position that blends classroom teaching, research, graduate student advising and extension … so I can talk with experience in all realms of that committee’s charge.”

Collegian writer Carrie Mobley can be reached at

The local foods movement: A thesaurus

Locavore: a person interested in eating food that is locally produced and not moved long distances to market.

Slow food: an international movement that is promoted as an alternative to fast food, and that encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation with the growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma:” a nonfiction book by Michael Pollan published in 2006. In the book, Pollan follows each of the food chains, and in the process writes an account of the American way of eating. (A must-read for any prospective locavore!)

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