LocalHarvest Newsletter, February 2, 2015

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Fifteen years ago this March, we launched LocalHarvest.org, and this month I offered to be the guest newsletter writer so I could share some thoughts on the "good food movement."

Back in 2000, the organic food movement was well established, but many people, including me, thought that it was starting to lose touch with what we saw as its true 'essence.' We wanted a food system that went beyond the "no synthetic chemicals" imperative of organic to create a food economy that existed on a more 'human' scale. We hoped this movement would create structures that renewed local economies and environmental health, strengthened our communities, and led to the mindful enjoyment of sharing fresh and delicious foods with our loved ones.

At that time we hoped that by redirecting the conversation to include local food, we could take back the 'good food' flag from the money interests then starting to take over the organic market space. We wanted to return it to its legitimate grassroots owners: the small farmers, CSA subscribers, farmers markets, and myriad small businesses working hard to create food systems based on quality, authenticity, fairness, and environmental responsibility. We joked that the day might come when 'buy local' would be trendy and if that happened, real CSAs would have to defend their businesses against franchised CSAs or other inauthentic attempts to capitalize on the demand created by good, honest food.

That day did come. We now have dozens of venture capital-funded enterprises trying to capitalize on local food, farm to table, and other permutations of the good food movement. But who is benefiting? Unfortunately, in many cases, it is not the farmers. The reality is that handcrafted, sustainably grown food is expensive to produce and in most cases cannot compete against conventional agriculture on price. The margins on good food are so slim that companies cannot both pay farmers well and create the kinds of returns on investment that traditional investors expect. Fortunately, there are now other "patient capital" options, like Slow Money, that will fund food businesses without unreasonable expectations of large liquidity events. We believe that these sources of funding are essential to the health of the good food space.

At LocalHarvest, we believe that for local, sustainably grown foods to become more than a niche market many things still need to change. Energy prices need to reflect their true costs - including their environmental costs. The very fabric of our culture needs to change so that more people have the time and resources to choose their food with considerations of community and quality in mind, rather than exclusively by convenience and price.

Cultural changes come slowly. We are aware that this is a generational change that we've embarked on. The groundwork has been laid, however, and we feel hopeful about the continued changes that the next 15 years will bring.

Guillermo Payet

From the LH Store

Craving citrus? LocalHarvest growers’ citrus is selling like hotcakes this year. Try some from The Orange Shop or Rancho Charanda, both with free shipping on many items.

Thinking about joining a CSA to round out your summer veggie options? CSAs are beginning to fill up, so now is a good time to research the possibilities in your area. We have 5,500 CSAs in our directory, some of which offer their shares online.

It's the best time of year to think about your spring garden and start ordering seeds! Whether you're looking for your old favorite varieties or something new and different for this year's garden, our farmers have great things to offer. Over 1,500 varieties at last count, from seed growers all over the country.

CSAware: Looking Ahead to the new season?

CSA Farmers: It's a great time of year to consider upgrading your business processes. CSAware can help. If you'd like to ask us some questions about it or take an online tour, let us know!

Food from the Farm: Roasted Cauliflower

At my house we eat a lot of cauliflower this time of year. Delicious, nutritious, quick -- we can't get enough. I almost always roast it first. Sometimes I serve it just like that, as a side dish; other times I make it into something more substantial. Here is an easy recipe for roasted cauliflower and two ideas for planning meals around it.


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