Tennessee is often at the top of national lists for the best states in which to conduct business, but it ranks poorly in terms of its commitment to local foods, according to a national food advocacy group.
The state ranks No. 40 on the Locavore Index, an annual list published by Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based nonprofit. The group uses census and U.S. Department of Agriculture data, along with a per capita comparison of farmers' markets, consumer supported agriculture operations (CSAs) and food hubs to rank states in the survey.
Tennessee may rank poorly in the survey, but Linnet Overton, director of advocacy and development at Nashville-based Community Food Advocates, said Davidson County would likely rank higher if it were evaluated separately. She said great strides have been made in in the local food market. Several neighborhood-specific farmers’ markets have sprouted up, community gardens are plentiful and there are multiple area restaurants that feature locally sourced food, including The Catbird Seat, Flyte, Wild Cow, Miel and Sloco.
“We have an amazingly active and productive local food movement in Nashville,” Overton said. “But when you look at the state as a whole, you’ll find there are a lot of communities, particularly in rural areas, that lack access. It’s a very long journey to make the changes necessary to improve accessibility.”
The term “locavore,” and the locavorism movement, are recent additions to the cultural vocabulary. “Locavore” made its first appearance in 2005 and was designated the 2007 Word of the Year by the Oxford American Dictionary. As a movement, locavorism advocates a preference for local food because that food is generally fresher, has shorter (i.e., more environmentally friendly) trucking hauls and is wasted less in distribution, warehousing and merchandising.
According to the survey, the top five states for locavorism, in order, are Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Iowa.
The firms leading the discussions on the redevelopment of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds site on Monday presented some more specific ideas during a community meeting. The group (led by Nashville-based EDGE Planning, Landscape Architecture and Graphic Design) envisions for the area anywhere between 500 and 900 residential units, up to 200,000 square feet of neighborhood retail and between 750,000 and 1.5 million square feet of office space, as well as up to 100,000 square feet of space in institutional buildings. Here are some renderings from the firm's report, which should be available soon on this page.
The company managing downtown's One Nashville Place office tower on Monday provided us with a few more details on Regions Bank's plans to relocate its Middle Tennessee and Mid-America headquarters there. Daymark Realty says Regions' 100,000-square-foot lease is for 12.5 years and will give the bank room to house 225 employees. The company also says the lease — Regions is essentially replacing U.S. Bank, which is moving to the AT&T Building — brings the occupancy at One Nashville Place to 99 percent, but that stat should come with an asterisk: Two floors that law firm Miller & Martin is subleasing to Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada will be empty by spring.
One other detail in Daymark's release needs outright tweaking, though: The firm says One Nashville is 37 stories tall. It's actually 25.