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Peterson to host conference on local foods in February

MARSHALL -- U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will host a conference on community-based food systems in February.

"The Home Grown Economy 2010 -- Equipping You to Build Community Based Food Systems" conference will be Feb. 15 and 16 in Marshall.

To improve access for constituents throughout the 7th Congressional District, interactive video sessions will be conducted Feb. 16 at the following college campus locations: University of Minnesota, Crookston; University of Minnesota, Morris; Bemidji State University; and Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls.

"Changing attitudes about food, its impact on health and well-being, and growing opportunities for small farmers have sparked a movement across the country and in Minnesota of consumers seeking out locally grown foods," Peterson said in a news release.

The conference is intended to help link people to available resources.

An example of that link is the Farm to School Program, which links local agricultural producers to school lunch and breakfast programs.

That program is growing in Minnesota.

Peterson sponsored the first conference on local foods in 2007, and he has conducted additional meetings on local foods and economic opportunity.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has been invited to give the keynote address. Ken Meter of Crossroads Research Center will speak about how food networks can thrive and strengthen local economies.

Panel presenters will provide information about what is happening at the local level, and each regional site will have an opportunity to discuss how they can expand upon their local community based food system.For more information on the 2010 Home Grown Economy conference, go to www.regionalpartnerships., or contact Peterson's office at 218-847-5056.