By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator

Bags of asparagus. Hot pepper jams. Turkey tail mushrooms.

Over the past year and half, consumers recommitted to sourcing locally and discovered diverse and delicious food close to home. They also turned to virtual options to learn how to cook, preserve, and source those local ingredients. Farmers and processors, re-upping their own commitment to supply safe products, also found themselves in similar virtual spaces as they brushed up on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) and the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) through online classes and webinars. The Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC), a cooperative agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), helped connect producers to socially distant learning opportunities by offering podcasts, 1-on-1 phone consultations, and lots of Zoom workshops. This May, as some in-person activities resume (while others stay virtual), LFSC starts another round of FDA funding to continue and learn from their previous four years of food safety education and outreach.

LFSC partners are found across the country and include Auburn University, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Cornell University, Kansas Farmers Union, Kentucky Horticulture Council, Michigan Farmers Union, Keep Growing Detroit, Missouri Farmers Union, Montana Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, New England Farmers Union, Pennsylvania Farmers Union, Tilth Alliance, and The United Christian Community Association. These organizations use their local and regional expertise to address the food safety needs of small-scale, diversified, sustainable, organic, and identity-preserved growers and processors. Building food safety knowledge among these groups helps them meet Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements and strengthens their ability to engage with a wider variety of markets. In 2021 and 2022, those needs will be met by work as diverse as the local food community itself and includes in-person and virtual workshops and farm tours, outreach at events, and making Produce Safety Alliance grower trainings more accessible. Some partners will continue building on their earlier work, with unique offerings that include illustrations to enhance produce safety workshops, a guide to hosting hand-on food safety events and collaborating with famers markets to help growers test their water.

From podcasts to Facebook-live farm walks to on-farm consultations, the LFSC is looking forward to another year of food safety resources created from and for diverse regions and populations. To stay up to date on food safety events and resources, follow LFSC on Facebook and Twitter.

For more food safety resources, please visit the Local Food Safety Collaborative website along with the Food Safety Resource Clearinghouse for a curated source of food safety guides, factsheets, templates, and more. Don’t forget to follow LFSC on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the latest food safety news.

This project website is supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award 1U01FD006921-01 totaling $1,000,000 with 100 percent funded by FDA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by FDA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.

Like what you’ve read? Join the conversation at National Farmers Union’s Facebook page.

Leave a Reply