Local eating is at its heart a way for people living in a capitalist, urban society to go back to their roots, to remember what it was like when the food that was grown around you was what you had. Of course, 'green' and sustainable elements of local eating are very important, but the feeling of returning to a community, like the "good old days," is a major draw to being a locavore. So, I must admit that at first glance, the concept behind FarmersWeb struck me as slightly counterintuitive... a website that helped people buy local? Luckily, FarmersWeb representative Sam Fox was happy to answer my questions about how FarmersWeb is bringing local eating into the 21st century.
FarmersWeb was started by Jennifer Goggin, David Ross, and Aaron Grosbard. "Aaron and Jenn had some experience working for a local focused distributer in NYC, and thought they could do it better and in a more farmer friendly way," Sam explains. "David has an entrepreneurial background and helped get the ball rolling." And get the ball rolling they did. The concept was deceptively simple, which is probably the key to its success: connect farmers to wholesale buyers, allowing them to cut out the middle man and stay local.
"The platform acts as an inventory management system for farmers, as well as a way to find new buyers. We also help them figure out delivery, and we handle payment collection," Sam explains. "For buyers, we offer an easy and convenient way for them to buy local food."
Because of the online platform, certain aspects of what "local" means are finessed. Buyers can only see products coming from less than 300 miles from their location, which emphasizes using local products, an idea of which Sam is, not surprisingly, a proponent. "As the site is really wholesale driven, I don't use it regularly (I unfortunately rarely have need for a side of beef, a couple gallons of milk, or a couple cases of carrots), but it's been a blast working directly with farmers and discovering new and exciting products."
Whether you're buying wholesale or just for your family, buying local is becoming more and more important... and more and more possible. There's no excuse not to buy local anymore. "It's important to know where your food comes from in order to make informed decisions," Sam says. "It's important to eliminate waste from shipping, packaging, and transportation. By eating local, you maintain a connection with all the people that are part of your supply chain, and that connection leads to transparency and ultimately better practices."
But the question still begged to be asked: why put local online? Luckily, Sam had the answer to that as well. "I think that in addition to expanding ones reach, the internet can be helpful in focusing it. That is, by putting farmers and buyers online, they're able to connect with others in their area." At the end of the day, the world wide web is making it even easier to connect with people who are essentially neighbors... who'd have thought it could be possible?
For more ways to use technology to facilitate local eating, look no further:
Image: Natalie Maynor