Backroom Briefing: A Farmer Eats Across Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Food across Florida is being highlighted this week on the United Kingdom’s ITV network, as the state’s tourism-marketing agency works to beef up overseas travel numbers.

A five-part series hosted by Ipswich farmer and television personality Jimmy Doherty is running on the public-broadcast channel and being streamed on YouTube. The series is titled “Jimmy’s Taste of Florida.”

“I’m swapping muddy fields for a flight stateside and a new colony adventure,” Doherty said as he opened the series.

Meagan Chiamardas, director of brand for the Visit Florida tourism-marketing agency, told board members last week that the agency was “presented with an opportunity to produce a content series that would be distributed across ITV.”

“He (Doherty) was able to travel to a variety of different places within the state of Florida from Northwest Florida all the way down to the Everglades,” Chiamardas said. “So, we look forward to having that as part of our marketing mix in the U.K.”

Visit Florida’s U.K. marketing arm pitched Rock Oyster Media Production on the idea for the show, according to Meagan Lowe, Visit Florida’s director of public relations.

Florida’s tourism industry has largely rebounded from a nosedive early in the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number of overseas travelers is the last remaining segment below pre-pandemic levels. Visit Florida provided $196,000 for the Doherty series, which is expected to reach at least 15 million people through ITV and online viewings.

Doherty, who traveled with his family, outlined the trip to the online site Family Traveller. It started with Union Public House and Five Sisters Blues Café in Pensacola, where for viewers back home he enjoyed “the lack of ceremony attached to eating oysters.”

Other stops included Panama City Beach, Kennedy Space Center, New Smyrna Beach, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Tampa, Polk County, Orlando, Miami and Anna Maria Island, which he compared to the “Maldives.”

“There are cool little bars lining the streets, you can hire a golf buggy and go down on the pier, learn about horseshoe crabs and watch the dolphins,” Doherty told Family Traveller.


As Democrats focus on hammering issues about property insurance and abortion rights, the Republican Party of Florida last weekend took a stand against a referendum proposed for the November ballot on abortion.

Meeting in Wesley Chapel, party activists backed a resolution opposing a ballot initiative that seeks to ensure abortion rights. The Florida Supreme Court is considering whether the measure meets legal requirements to get on the ballot.

The resolution supports efforts by Attorney General Ashley Moody to block the initiative.

“The Republican Party of Florida opposes the efforts by the abortionists to place this radical pro-abortion amendment on the ballot, and if it does appear on the ballot asks all Floridians to vote against this amendment in November,” the resolution said.

But not all Republicans support the party’s stance.

Former state Rep. Carlos Lacasa, R-Miami, said during an appearance on the “Deeper Dive with Dara Kam” podcast that the party’s positions on abortion and the proposed constitutional amendment could affect turnout in the November elections.

“I think there is a lot of motivation to go to the polls and vote for this (initiative), not only for women, but also for men who feel as I do that this is a privacy issue,” Lacasa said on the podcast recorded before the party meeting in Wesley Chapel.

Democrats view abortion rights as an issue that has motivated voters since the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 struck down the decades-old Roe v. Wade abortion decision.

When Democrats flipped the Central Florida battleground House District 35 in a special election last month, they pointed to making inroads with independents and moderate Republicans through an emphasis on property insurance and abortion rights.


Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, was first up Thursday in giving a farewell address to his colleagues on the Senate floor.

“I want to make sure that everybody remembers: Don’t lose yourself in the process. Be who you are.,” said Powell, who will leave his seat this year as he runs for the Palm Beach County Commission.

Farewell addresses have become a ritual in the Senate and the House, as lawmakers prepare to leave their seats — most because of term limits.

Over the next couple of weeks, addresses are expected from Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze; Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine; Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville; Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Eustis; Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Indialantic; Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, D-Davie; Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando; and Sen. Victor Torres, D-Orlando.

More farewells will be offered in the House.

SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE WEEK: “I want the 49ers to win so we can end the Taylor Swift conspiracies.” — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (@SenMarcoRubio).

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