Local foods are enjoying renewed popularity as people all over North America and Europe realize that nurturing a dependable, nearby food source leads not only to delicious eating experiences but enriched communities, too.
This new trend has spawned interesting new jobs. Take Paul Sawtell and Grace Mandarano who started 100km Foods in 2007. They noticed a lack of infrastructure for local food producers. Before 100km Foods, chefs who wanted local products had to find individual farmers, coordinate deliveries, and source new farms and products themselves. Plus, the farmers had to deal with deliveries, invoicing and receiving orders on top of their regular workload.
Enter Paul and Grace with an ambitious idea to help both sides do their jobs more easily:
“It was literally a case of cold calling farmers, driving up to their farms, sitting at their kitchen tables to tell them what we were trying to do and seeing what kind of products they could offer,” says Paul when asked to explain how 100km Foods started.
He and Grace initially drew largely on the member lists of organizations such as Durham Farm Fresh as well as York Region Farm Fresh to make contacts with the growers. Since then, their roster has grown mostly by taking product requests from chefs and subsequently finding farms that can offer supply.
What’s next? “In the future, 100km Foods will be a resource to GTA chefs offering a vast array of local foods including protein and dairy sourced from north, east, west and south of Toronto, all harvested to order with multiple deliveries per week. We also hope to expand our direct-to-consumer Ontario Artisan Share Program, providing all local, artisan-produced food products direct from producer to consumer.”
What’s happening in your area? Are you involved in CSA’s or aware of restaurants who work with companies like 100km Foods in your area? If so, give them a plug in the comments section.
Also, visit Christie’s Corner today to read Paul Sawtell’s perspective on fresh food prices. His comments about what we pay for food may surprise you.