When I started my own baby food company, Little City Kitchen Co., I immersed myself completely into the local food world for the first time in my life. One of the most rewarding results was the relationship I developed with the people that make and grow my food. Food, whether I’m learning, buying or eating it, is an experience for me, and I have endless curiosity about how it comes to be.
Somewhere over the last several years, I developed a driving need to uncover the story behind my food. I could (and do!) spend hours talking to farmers and craft food producers about their experiences…what drove them to start their business, how long have they been making kombucha, when will their best pickling cucumbers arrive, and most importantly, how can I help support them?
And for the everyday person, therein lies the problem: Most people would never put the same energy that I do into selecting & buying food.
There’s just no getting around the fact that supporting local food makers is an intentional act; you almost have to go out of your way to do it. It takes more time, energy, and lets face it, money, than we’re used to spending on this part of our life. So why bother?
Make Food Personal
For me, there is something magical about knowing the person who makes my food. Not only am I convinced that the food is healthier and tastes better, but I’m also emotionally drawn to supporting these types of businesses, and I get tremendous satisfaction when I contribute, even in a small way.
Because I’ve been there… These guys eat, live & breathe their products, and it takes loyal supporters like us, people that are willing to go out of their way to make purchases, to keep these guys in business. I assure you that local food businesses have the deck stacked against them almost every step of the way, so the $8 loaf of Bread Srsly or the $7 jar of Emmy’s pickles you buy really does make a difference.
Small changes to consider
So in typical Jill fashion, I’ve put together a few tips on how the everyday person can begin to re-establish the connection they have with the people that make & grow their food:
- Visit your local farmers market and talk every week to the people selling…many of them are the owners and have all sorts of information & stories.
- In San Francisco, check out my new company “crush”, the newly launched Good Eggs website (literally, they launched yesterday). They’ve been called the new Esty of local food.
- Seek out local products in your natural grocery stores, and choose (even if just occasionally) to pay a few bucks more for it than a less-expensive, larger brand.
- Once you find local products you love, consider giving them as gifts. Look for opportunities to buy for more than just yourself, and introduce others to these foods in the process
- Check out a Slow Money collaboration called Credibles where you can pre-purchase from your favorite local businesses. Think of it like a really big gift certificate that you get to redeem over time.
- Consider joining a CSA for a weekly delivery of produce, meat, jams, bread and even seafood.
When it comes down to it for me, I’d rather know that Donna made my Love & Hummus, or that Deveraux chopped up the apricots for my jar of Company Jam, or that Charlie gathered my eggs from Rolling Oaks Ranch. I’ll seek out Bledsoe pork because the rancher, John Bledsoe, is a riot. And soon on a Saturday, I’ll trek into San Francisco for a fresh juice “flight” from a new pop-up juice bar called SoW, for no other reason than to support the co-founder and my friend, Luisa.
This is what the local food community is all about. Come join us!!