Sustainable Ag Supply Chain
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”.
Working with Farmers in the Middle, Northeast Foodhub Strengthens Local Food System via Produce AggregationJuly 10, 2013 | Pamela Ellgen
When shoppers pick up a head of locally-grown kale at the grocery store, they’re often perplexed to find that it costs more than what looks like the identical product trucked in from miles away.
“The consumer feedback is ‘Why isn’t it less expensive?’” says Laura Edwards Orr, director of Resource Development for Red Tomato. “It’s one of the great paradoxes—it’s so much more complicated. What the consumer doesn’t see is that the local farmer paid for a truck for the entire day, whereas larger growers can spread the cost of logistics over much larger volume. Logistics and cost are the key barriers in the local food chain.”
In 2006, Shelly Herman and Irvin Cernauskas set out on a mission to make local and organic food available year-round in two major Midwestern markets: Chicago and Milwaukee. Cernauskas, who had been actively involved the environmental nonprofit community and in creating markets for local farmers, already had the connections needed to help create a stronger relationship between local farmers and urban consumers.
“The farmers were talking about how they want to spend more time farming and less time trucking their food all over the place,” said Herman. “At the same time we realized that people in the city or suburbs need a way to get fresh, healthy food in a year-round way.” To fill this growing need, Herman and Cernauskas started Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks, a local and organic food delivery service.
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.
It’s 5 pm on Thursday, milk is running low, and the kids polished off the last of the peanut butter the night before. Working parents everywhere, stuck in traffic, are scrounging for a healthy dinner.
Enter Door to Door Organics, an online organic grocery retailer that delivers fresh, organic groceries at a competitive cost with traditional brick-and-mortar grocers.
The company, which was founded by David Gersenson in 2004 in his 300 square-foot Boulder, Colorado garage, now serves 9 states, operating out of five centralized hubs in Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Missouri.
It is no longer just nonperishable items consisting of canned vegetables, pasta, or packaged meals filling the shelves of food banks in the city of Seattle, WA. Instead, canned food is being supplemented with produce grown on local urban farms and neighborhood P-patches. The shift in the food system toward growing local, sustainable produce is carrying over into the emergency food world and “providing healthy food for our neighbors” is now just as important as providing supplemental food assistance, says Sam Osborne, executive director of the Rainier Valley Food Bank.
This food bank is one of 27 within the city of Seattle and is the third or fourth busiest, according to Osborne. Three paid employees, two Americorps members and 20-35 volunteers served over 124,000 clients last year with an average of 10,000-11,000 clients visiting the food bank each month. Osborne describes their clients as representing a “microcosm of the planet” because the Rainier Valley neighborhood is recognized as the most diverse zip code in the nation.
Meet the future of retail grocery shopping: SPUD, which stands for Sustainable Produce Urban Delivery. The company provides you with a means to buy organic, locally sourced, guaranteed-tasty, weekly groceries, without adding a microgram to your carbon footprint.
It’s like your local Farmers Market pulls up stakes and sets up camp on your front lawn, except that you only have to glance at your computer to make your selections, and everything might cost a little bit less. No drive to a crowded market, no aimless search for that elusive parking spot,
When Marty and Kris Travis first founded Stewards of the Land, a cooperative of local family farmers in Illinois, they were fledgling farmers themselves.
“This was before any local food thing hit in this part of the state,” Marty Travis said. “Still, we felt like we wanted to do something to provide great, healthy food to the local community.”
At the time, Travis and his wife lived on Spence Farm, his family farmstead, with their son, Will. Though the 160-acre farm had been in his family for 175 years, his parents never worked the land. Tenant farmers managed the land throughout his childhood.