July 27, 2010

Food purchased in a grocery store travels an average of 1,500 miles from farm to consumer, but for community members who participated in Barren County's recent 100-mile potluck, that distance was much shorter.

The 100-mile potluck was a community dinner orchestrated by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service in Barren County. The goal of the event was for participants to bring a dish containing ingredients produced within 100 miles of the county. Since the majority of products were produced inside the county, most dishes were well under the limit, said Melinda McCulley, the county's family and consumer sciences extension agent.

"Most products were prepared and picked early the morning of the potluck or the evening before, so we had some very fresh, tasty foods," McCulley said. "Since many people only eat food that is purchased in a grocery store, they don't realize the taste difference between fresh, homegrown products and those from a store."

The Barren County potluck also displayed the variety of foods that can be produced locally. At the event, they had everything from zucchini to dill to  bacon and beef.

This was the second year for the potluck, and it grew out of an idea of the county's extension council who wanted a different kind of event to emphasize the importance of local foods to Barren countians.

"Communities in other parts of the state have done something like this in the past, but it had never been done in this area before," McCulley said.

McCulley said the dinner was a great opportunity to educate a lot of different people about the benefits of locally grown foods, both to the consumer and local producer.