With Georgia agriculture contributing nearly $70 billion each year to the state’s economy, the industry serves as a cornerstone for many of the state’s smaller and more rural communities. With this important sector’s future vital to Georgia’s long-term success, it was only natural for the Georgia Chamber to join forces with the recently redesigned Georgia Grown program to actively support and promote agribusiness throughout the state.
“Agribusiness is Georgia’s largest and most diverse industry,” said Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark. “Helping the industry remain strong is a critical component to our overall competitiveness as a state. We are proud to support this important effort and the many agriculture-based companies that call Georgia home.” This new partnership between the Chamber and the Georgia Department of Agriculture includes expanding awareness of the essential role agriculture plays in the state’s economy and increasing business and consumer interest in the Georgia Grown program. This month, Profile is featuring several Georgia businesses that are actively involved in that mission through their work with the Georgia Chamber and Georgia Grown.
GEORGIA RESTAURANT ASSSOCIATION
In looking for a partner to help promote Georgia agribusiness to the state’s leading chefs and restaurants, Georgia Grown found the best possible ally in the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA). Representing Georgia’s 16,000+ foodservice and drinking establishments, which total over $14 billion in sales, GRA is the leading voice for advocacy, education, and awareness for this important sector of the economy. In 2012, GRA teamed up with Georgia Grown on two exciting initiatives geared toward increasing the awareness and use of Georgia agricultural products among culinary professionals across the state, the Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program and Golden Onion Professional Cooking Competition.
“We are excited to partner with Georgia Grown, because whether you are an executive chef or an everyday consumer, purchasing local food is beneficial for a number of reasons,” said GRA Executive Director Karen Bremer. “Georgia Grown food is fresher, more nutritious, saves on transportation cost and environmental impactundefinedand most importantly, it supports the community financially. By buying local, we can generate more revenue for our state, which will create more jobs. It’s a win-win.”
The Georgia Grown Executive Chef Program, a partnership between the GRA and the Georgia Department of Agriculture, seeks to foster relationships between chefs and farmers across the state. These chef ambassadors promote a better understanding of the availability and quality of local products that can be found in Georgia. Public school culinary education and school food nutrition programs will also be a major part of the Executive Chef program, offering training and recipe development. The program also hopes to create a pathway for consumers to support local, seasonal foods when dining out in their local communities through a Georgia Grown Restaurant Program.
This year also marked the beginning of the Golden Onion Competition, a professional cooking challenge service as the kickoff to Georgia’s annual Vidalia Onion Festival in south Georgia. Twelve chefs competed against one another to create the most unique recipe featuring exclusive-to-Georgia Vidalia onions, one of the state’s most recognizable agricultural products. The first-place winner, Georgia Grown Executive Chef Hilary White of the Hil at Serenbe, was awarded the “Golden Onion” trophy –a prize that will be passed along from year to year to future winners of the competition. To learn more, visit www.garestaurants.org/GeorgiaGrown.