Sioux Falls hosts annual South Dakota Local Food Conference
The annual South Dakota Local Foods Conference took place in Sioux Falls over the weekend.
This years’ slogan is Grow, Nourish, Sustain.
Farmers, ranchers, gardeners and health food experts met at Southeast Technical College to discuss current food system trends in the state.
Gabbi Demarce is a Food Systems Organizer for Dakota Rural Action. She co-hosted the opening ceremony.
“We are here this weekend to collectively celebrate and amplify the many local producers, growers, chefs, foodies, and food system stakeholders across South Dakota with a shared commitment to developing resilient communities and equitable food systems,” said Demarce.
The conference included breakout sessions hosted by local industry leaders. Topics included mental health, weed management, production sustainability and more.
Dozens of vendors from all over the state set up booths at the conference to network with fellow producers. Two local farms were in attendance, offering scheduled farm tours.
Linda Black Elk is the Educational Programs and Community Engagement Leader for North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems. She was Friday’s keynote speaker.
She said individuals can positively impact their health by choosing to grow their own food.
“All these inflammatory compounds in processed foods lead to these just insane rates of depression among our people. It’s not just depression, it’s Alzheimer’s, dementia, right? When we are not eating the food we are supposed to be eating, we are not absorbing the nutrients that our brain needs in order to function properly in the long term,” said Black Elk.
The conference took place over two days, offering a youth track on Saturday. The South Dakota Local Foods Coalition said the youth track is focused on providing the next generation with accurate information on best production practices.