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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture

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local and regional distribution

In Fight Against Waste and Food Insecurity, SoCal Gleaning Org Recovers Millions of Pounds of Fresh Produce

September 22, 2016 |
Food Forward's Wholesale Recovery Program Manager, Luis Yepiz, insp

Food Forward’s Wholesale Recovery Program Manager, Luis Yepiz, inspects grapes recovered from a wholesale donor. The program works to reduce waste by collecting unwanted produce from wholesale donors in and around the downtown Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. Photo courtesy of Food Forward.

The number of food insecure residents in Southern California is staggering. According to Rick Nahmias, founder and executive director of Food Forward, there are nearly 2.4 million people in Los Angeles and surrounding counties who lack access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. If that number were a state “its population would rest somewhere in between Nevada and New Mexico in size,” says Nahmias.

That is the challenge that Food Forward tackles each and every day by recovering excess fruits and vegetables and donating them to local agencies that feed the hungry. Read More

Innovative Food Bank Program Benefits Local Farmers While Feeding Those in Need

August 11, 2016 |
The Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine warehouse. Photo credit: Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine warehouse. Photo credit: Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine.

For a long time food banks and food pantries have occupied a respected, but relatively fixed role in the food system. They are the safety net that catches food before it goes to waste and redirects it those in need. But as popular movements to combat food waste reshape the way food moves through the food system, the reactionary role of food banks is changing too. With even large-scale grocers finding ways to compost or donate their would-be waste, food bank staff are having a harder time bringing in enough quality food to keep their clients well fed. Read More

Pedal-power and Precision Revolutionize Food Rescue in Boulder

July 19, 2016 |
Boulder Food Rescue makes pickups from grocery stores and restaurants seven days per week and in all weather conditions in order to keep food from falling through the cracks. Photo credit: One Thousand Designs

Boulder Food Rescue makes pickups from grocery stores and restaurants seven days per week and in all weather conditions in order to keep food from falling through the cracks. Photo credit: Ethan Welty

When 1 in 7 people are going hungry in a country that throws out half the food it produces, there isn’t a supply problem; there’s a distribution problem. This was part of the hypothesis tested in a 2011 study conducted by former University of Colorado students Caleb Phillips and Becky Higbee. By looking at data collected through a local food rescue organization, the study found that large volumes of food were going to waste in northern Colorado because there wasn’t a well-coordinated effort capable of catching that food before it became completely unusable. The research team showed that, with funding and adequate labor, organized food rescue and redistribution efforts were not only possible at small and large scales, they could also capture enough potentially wasted food in Boulder and Broomfield Counties to feed everyone in that area.

On the wings of this information, Phillips and Higbee joined with friends Nora Lecesse, Helen Katich, and Hana Dansky to form Boulder Food Rescue. The project began with the same systems-minded approach as the study. The BFR crew met with  local grocery store officials, whose stores were trashing unsold food, and asked why they wouldn’t choose to donate it instead. Some blamed the rules of local food banks, which prohibited donations of produce outside of its original packaging. Many more grocery managers lamented that food gone past a supermarket’s saleable standards is too perishable to survive the extended journey from store to food bank to plate.  As the study had already shown, timing was key. Read More

To Bolster Local Food Market, Software Solution Streamlines Grower Seller Communications

June 20, 2016 |
Cole Jones, founder of Local Line. The company bills itself as "A commerce platform to build your brightest future in food." Photo courtesy of Local Line.

Cole Jones, founder of Local Line. The company bills itself as “A commerce platform to build your brightest future in food.” Photo courtesy of Local Line.

Growing produce isn’t a cakewalk—and selling greens? That’s not easy, either. That’s why Local Line wants to simplify communication between growers and sellers.

The idea for this streamlined company that bills itself as “a commerce platform to build your brightest future in food” was sparked in October 2013. That’s when Cole Jones met the company’s other co-founder, Cole McLay, at a pitch competition. McClay and Jones were both undergrads at the time—McLay was a fourth-year environmental studies student at the University of Waterloo, and Jones was a third year philosophy student at Wilfrid Laurier University. The original concept behind Local Line was to distribute local food from farmers to consumers, but the young, budding business partners soon changed their focus to supplying chefs.

In January 2014, Local Line was accepted to the Laurier Launchpad program. “The program taught us to talk to potential customers before trying to build or sell anything,” Jones says. Read More

6 Simple Ways To Support Local Food And Farmers

March 7, 2016 |
Kevin Prather, Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farmer, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Kevin Prather of Mellowfields Urban Farm and Common Ground urban farm, sells his produce at the Cottins Hardware Farmers Market. Image credit: Eileen Horn

Whether you are new to the local food scene, or you’ve been buying from your neighborhood farmers market for years, you’re making a big difference in the lives of small farmers and food distributors. But the food system is complicated. It’s not always clear how to spend your resources—whether to invest time or money—to best support your local food system.

So we’ve compiled six tips to make it even easier for you to support local food producers. Read More

Agriculture Key to California Economic Summit’s ‘One Million Challenge’ for Workers, Water and Homes

February 18, 2016 |
Trees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photoTrees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

Trees are pruned for backyard orchards at Hayes Valley Farm, a community-built farm on San Francisco’s former Central Freeway. Agriculture in both rural and urban areas is a key component of the California Economic Summit’s 2016 roadmap to economic prosperity. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

In November 2015, the fourth California Economic Summit took place in Ontario, located in Southern California’s Inland Empire. Agriculture was a key component of the vision outlined at the event, which is designed to spur economic growth in the Golden State.

The event is put on by the California Stewardship Network, a group promoting economic vitality and California Forward, a bipartisan government reform initiative.

“The first economic summit did not include agriculture, which was a large frustration,” says Glenda Humiston, Working Landscapes Action Team co-lead and vice president of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (along with co-lead A.G. Kawamura, an urban farmer from Orange County). “The following year, we advocated for a Working Landscapes action team.” Read More

New Alliance Strives to Preserve Rich Local Food Culture of Louisiana’s Acadiana Region

November 24, 2015 |
Okra, used in gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun/Creole foods, is one of several locally-grown crops in southern Louisiana’s Acadiana region. (photo courtesy Chris Adams/Acadiana Food Alliance)

Okra, used in gumbo, jambalaya and other Cajun/Creole foods, is one of several locally-grown crops in southern Louisiana’s Acadiana region. (Photo courtesy Chris Adams/Acadiana Food Alliance)

The rich Cajun and Creole food tradition of southern Louisiana’s French-speaking region of Acadiana is the target of preservation efforts by a new local food alliance.

Until recently, efforts to bolster local foods in the Acadiana region were disparate and disjointed, according to Christopher Adams, executive director of the Cultural Research Institute of Acadiana. The Acadiana Food Alliance is trying to change that.

“There’s been a fair amount of movement in the area for local food, including an upsurge in farmers’ markets and lots of restaurants featuring local food on menus,” says Adams. “These have been independent and scattered efforts, with lots of individual potentials. Our hope is to bring together an effective collaboration.”

The journey toward the new food alliance began in February 2014 when about 30 interested people began meeting regularly. The group applied for technical assistance from the U.S. EPA’s Local Foods, Local Places program, and were one of 26 recipients (out of 300 applicants) nationwide. The Local Foods, Local Places program seeks to enhance economic opportunities for locally based farmers and businesses by improving access to healthy local food and supporting food hubs, farmers’ markets, and community gardens and kitchens. Read More

Website Fights ‘Local-wash’, Reveals Which Food Retailers Truly Serve Up Local

October 26, 2015 |
A screenshot of the Local Local website features three of its key features: searching for, discovering, and connecting with food businesses that provide local fare. (image courtesy Reed Shelger/Local Local)

A screenshot of the Local Local website features three of its key features: searching for, discovering, and connecting with food businesses that provide local fare. (image courtesy Reed Shelger/Local Local)

A popular new restaurant proclaims that it serves only local food and drink. But how do its customers know if the restaurant’s food is truly local? A new website looks to answer this question.

Local Local, founded by Reed Shelger in 2014, provides an online directory of restaurants and other food retailers that procure and sell local foods.

Shelger, who worked as a consultant in the commercial food industry after earning an undergraduate degree in managerial economics from the University of California, Davis and a master’s in business administration from Rice University, saw firsthand how grocery stores and restaurants “local-wash.” “Local-washing” is defined as exaggerating or fabricating the extent to which food comes from local sources.   Read More