local food sourcing
At Urban Rural Nexus, Food Distributor in Colorado Makes Connections that Grow the Local Food MarketplaceSeptember 24, 2013 | Melonie Magruder
Back when she was running the Lyric Cinema Café, she made a conscious choice to make sure her café was stocked with the same kinds of foods she would pack for her children’s lunches – something fresh, healthful and, most importantly, local.
“We were sort of a glorified concession stand,” Mozer said. “But we believe in supporting our local farmers. And where we’re located, somewhere between urban and rural, you can find a lot of farms.”
The recently established DROPP, Distributors of Regional & Organic Produce and Products, is a side project for the Great Basin Community Food Cooperative in Reno, Nevada. The food cooperative came into existence in 2005 under a buyer’s club model. Although the food coop is still going strong, DROPP is an effort to improve the infrastructure between the informed consumer and the sustainable grower and is best described as a food hub where farmer and fork collide.
“As we were building new relationships with local farmers we started sending out local availability lists to restaurants and members of our coop just saying ‘this farm has this and this farm has that.’
A lot of farmers will tell you that the food grown through sustainable agriculture is only part of the equation. Creating infrastructure for small growers through food hubs, incorporating marketing and educational materials for customers and overhauling the perception of organic food in the United States are all essential parts of a successful food evolution. Indeed, there’s more to food hubs than just food. Just ask Kristen Suokko of Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, VA.
“We see Local Food Hubs nationally having impacts on a range of interrelated issues: food security, food safety (knowing where the food comes from), local economic vitality, land stewardship, and public health,” shares Suokko.
With roots in San Francisco’s storied People’s Food System, Veritable Vegetable has helped organic growers distribute their produce for nearly 40 years. While farmer’s markets and food co-ops are recent phenomena in some parts of the country, northern Californians started seeking an alternative to supermarkets and agricultural food giants in the 1970s. The People’s Food System was a network of collectives in the San Francisco Bay Area that sought to connect local food producers to neighborhood co-ops and community markets. In 1974, some members established the Veritable Vegetable Collective, which focused solely on produce distribution. Over the years, Veritable Vegetable has evolved from a worker-run collective into a for-profit company that serves growers and markets in parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, and Hawaii.
Anyone who has visited a Chipotle Mexican Grill knows their business model: pretty, tasty tacos and burritos prepared to order in an assembly line of tortillas, savory shredded meats, beans and an array of salsas to fit your heat tolerance.
What you might not know is that Chipotle is leading the way for “fast food” chains to transform their food sourcing to a more environmentally responsible model that taps local farmers, patronizes humanely-raised meat farms and gives customers a more healthful mouthful. Or, as Chipotle puts it, “Food With Integrity”.
Detroit’s Eastern Market, the only remaining of three markets which once served the City of Detroit, was the site of the Michigan Food Hub Network’s statewide meeting on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. The meeting took place in the historic Detroit Eastern Market’s Shed 3, where over 200 people from all areas of the food world came to connect with and learn about funding resources, technical assistance programs, and to make connections. In attendance were farmers, institutional food service professionals, food processors and distributors, academics, and small independent grocers.
The demand for local food continues to grow, often faster than small growers and infrastructure can keep up. That’s why the work of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) is vital in connecting small farmers to big business in Northwest Washington State.
Founded in 2006, NABC is the brainchild of a group of farmers and politicians who noticed a gap in the small business assistance market. Independent growers running small farms are first and foremost farmers. Brand development, marketing, establishing a customer base and utilizing accounting technology are often unfamiliar and time consuming aspects of the small farm business. NABC provides assistance in these and other areas helping to keep small farms viable.
‘Next Urban Chef’ Program Stresses Importance of Local Food to Detroit Youth, Teams Students with ChefsApril 24, 2013 | Nina Ignaczak
“The food system is literally killing people in communities like Detroit,” says Alison Heeres, 27, coordinator of a program designed to educate and engage youth in the local food movement in the City of Detroit.
Heeres, who works with the University of Michigan Health System teaching nutrition and wellness in schools, has witnessed firsthand the impact of lack of access to and knowledge about fresh, local food in urban communities. So when she was asked to coordinate a program to engage Detroit youth in a high profile project designed to get them thinking about food and nutrition in a new way, she took the opportunity.
The program, Next Urban Chef, is modeled after the wildly popular Next Iron Chef television series, and focuses on youth education and leadership development around local food.