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Food Hub takes shape in Davenport's Freight House
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Photo: Gary Krambeck
Ed Kraklio of Nostalgia Farms shows some of the fresh eggs that his farm produces locally. A deli run by Nostalgia Farms soon will open at the Freight House in Davenport and will be part of the 'food hub.'
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Gary Krambeck
Joe Dennis, left, and Ed Kraklio, right, both with Nostalgia Farms, talk with Davenport 3rd Ward Alderman Bill Boom near the soon-to-be deli run by Nostalgia Farms at the Freight House in Davenport. The deli will be part of the 'food hub.'
DAVENPORT -- Changing people's habits and attitudes is not easy. But several backers of the Quad Cities Food Hub are confident they can do it.

Ed Kraklio and Joe Dennis, who run Nostalgia Farms in Walcott, and Davenport Ald. Bill Boom, 3rd Ward, believe that people want to eat and buy healthy, locally produced food and that the Food Hub, which will be in Davenport's Freight House, will be the place to do just that.

Mr. Kraklio, who serves on the Food Hub Committee with Ald. Boom, said the Food Hub will be a place where Quad-Cities residents can learn everything about local food.

"It's pulling the resources together," he said.

The main idea behind the Food Hub, Mr. Kraklio said, is education. Consumers will be able to learn how buying and eating local food is best for their health and the economy of the area, and growers will be able to learn new ways to get their products to customers beyond selling them at farmers' markets.

"We're educating consumers. We're educating growers," Mr. Kraklio said.

Mr. Kraklio, Mr. Dennis and Ald. Boom hope the Freight House will be only the beginning of the Food Hub. Ultimately, they said, they would like it to expand into a warehouse that would allow delivery of locally grown products throughout the Quad-Cities.

But, even when the Food Hub does expand, the Freight House still will be a large part of it.

"What we intend is that this be the central focus of the Food Hub," Ald. Boom said.

The Food Hub will have several parts, Mr. Kraklio said. Part of the space will be used for a deli run by Nostalgia Farms, slated to open this month. Front Street Brewery is moving its brewing operations into the Freight House, and Mr. Kraklio said that part of the space will be used as a grocery store for local products.

Additionally, Ald. Boom said, part of the space will be a commercial kitchen available for rent. Mr. Dennis said the kitchen also could be used for classes in cooking and canning and preserving.

"A part of keeping local food is preserving it," Mr. Dennis said.

The hope is that the Food Hub will not provide products just to individual consumers; eventually, Mr. Kraklio said, they would like to see the Food Hub distribute products to institutions such as schools, hospitals and even jails.

Ald. Boom agrees that getting local food into institutions needs to be a priority.

"The big demand, in my mind, is the institutions," he said. "All of these can benefit from the efforts of the Food Hub."

Mr. Dennis said he believes more people are starting to realize that prepackaged and processed foods are not healthy, and they want alternatives.

"That interest is already there. I think everyone's waking up and realizing that processed food is really an issue," he said. "I personally am afraid of food that has a shelf life of over a year."

Local food, he said, is often healthier as well because it does not have to be preserved for transport.

"Local and healthy tend to go hand in hand," Mr. Dennis said.

The Food Hub also will be beneficial to the Quad-Cities as a whole, Ald. Boom said.

"Part of our drive is to try to create local jobs that are not transferable," he said.

"From an economic standpoint, it makes sense," added Mr. Dennis.

Ald. Boom said he believes part of the difficulty in getting people to eat local food is that there are not many options for people who can't shop during the limited hours area farmers' markets are open. Once the Food Hub is running, he said he believes people will take advantage of the new option for local food.

"There is a choice," he said. "You can make a difference in your own core intake. Better food means better health."

Ald. Boom believes that giving local food producers a place where consumers can get their products easily will help shape the identity of the area. He compared the Food Hub to the Rock Island-made Boetje's Mustard, which began in the Quad-Cities but is now a nationally recognized brand.

"It also gives an identity to the Quad-Cities," he said.

Mr. Kraklio and Mr. Dennis say that, as renovations to the Freight House proceed, people have been asking when their deli is going to open.

"Response has been incredible," Mr. Dennis said.

"We've had people from the neighborhood on a daily basis," added Mr. Kraklio.

Ald. Boom said city officials have been equally enthusiastic about the Food Hub.

"These are the sustainable efforts that they want to introduce into Davenport," he said. "This concept is spreading and the demand is out there for it."

Mr. Kraklio said he does not know what the Food Hub will look like down the road. But he is confident it will be a popular destination.

"We are the first stones being placed in the wall of what the Quad Cities Food Hub will be," he said. "We are on a food revolution here."

For more information, visit the Quad Cities Food Hub website, www.qcfoodhub.com, or the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Quad-Cities-Food-Hub/184095978292669.

Chasing the dream

Who: Proponents of the Quad Cities Food Hub
Quote: "We are the first stones being placed in the wall of what the Quad Cities Food Hub will be. We are on a food revolution here." -- Ed Kraklio, Nostalgia Farms

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