Food
5:33 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

A Permanent Farmers Market, and 5 Other Ways Austin Can Become A Foodie Capital

The City of Austin is thinking about helping to create a permanent farmers' market that would operate seven days a week. It was the first recommendation in a recent report produced for the city by Texas Perspectives, a local economic analysis and consulting firm. 

"Permanent food markets and food hubs could well speak to all the major findings of this report," TXP wrote, "as they offer the possibility of enhancing the Austin food sector in a way that appeals to both tourists and locals." 

A permanent farmers market was the top recommendation for developing Austin's foodie bonafides. Here's the five other recommendations from the report: 

  • Recommendation 2: Support local food manufacturing & processing

“While Austin hosts a range of successful processed food entrepreneurs (such as Lamme’s Candies, Sweet Leaf Tea, Tito’s Vodka, etc.) additional resources related to business development and processing capacity could make the situation even better,” the report says. The report points to the Oregon State Food Innovation Center in Portland, “which provides comprehensive technical assistance to start-up food manufacturers.”

  • Recommendation 3: Make vacant land available for urban agriculture

The report points to efforts at the Texas Legislature to make urban farming a more permitted use in the city.

  • Recommendation 4: Consider economic development support to local farmers

This recommendation notes Austin could adopt a program similar to the USDA’s micro-lending initiative.

  • Recommendation 5: Position mobile vendors to address underserved parts of the community

To combat the presence of “food deserts” in parts of the city, this recommendation calls for studying traveling markets. In Portland  (where else?), the report touts My Street Grocery as “a mobile grocer that sees itself as ‘a traveling farmers market or a mini grocery story on wheels.’”

  • Recommendation 6: Make local food a part of city and community marketing

Sure, Austin’s the Live Music Capital. But what about the local food capital? “It looks like the rest of the world is talking a lot about food in Austin,” the report says. “This is a significant opportunity to further expand the brand, and continue the evolution of our external identity to include a broader view of entertainment, creativity, and lifestyle.”

We spoke about the proposal with Margaret Shaw, who works in the city's Economic Growth and Redevelopment Services Office. Click on the player above to hear our conversation.