I know I am not the only one who feels like it is crazy to be writing 2018 on something. Where the heck did 2017 go? And why was it such an insane year? I caught myself so many times throughout 2017 asking why our world seemed so chaotic? It was a year with much more protests than peace. I know that we need some fiery years in our society to catalyze change, but let me be the first to say that I hope 2018 is a little more tranquil and a little less fire. I am ready to start drinking from a more optimistic half-full glass of cider this new year.
But before we are able to plan for prosperity in the new year, we must take a moment and see what lessons we learned from 2017. And I can tell you that 2017 was full of lessons.
The root of these lessons was really the fact that we are in a changing landscape for food and local food producers. When Amazon bought Whole Foods, the champion for “Buying Local” got assimilated into the faceless brown box that we call Amazon. The advocate (on a large scale) for supporting local farmers was now gone. And it was time for the local food movement to stand on its own.
You see, for so long the local food movement had been out of balance; beginning at the turn of the century (2000) there were tons of buttons and bumper stickers asking us to “Buy Local” but the fact of the matter was that there wasn’t enough local product to fill the demand. So we ended up with huge demand for local, but very little supply. A lopsided situation.
Fast forward to now. It is almost impossible to find those cute little Buy Local buttons, but the supply of local items is huge. Meats, dairy, eggs, baked goods, produce, pastas, coffees and pickles (to name a few). Hardly any of these companies who supply/make/grow these products now date back to before Y2K. These artisan producers (us included) saw this demand for local products and have tried to fill it. Classic economic scenario if there is a need, someone will try and fill it.
So there is a part of me that is/was sad to see a pioneer in the Organic movement like Whole Foods get bought out. But the real story I think comes from the ashes of their downfall. The forest is most fertile after a fire. And I honestly think that we/you will see some great models come from the groundwork that Whole Foods laid.
I know for us that opportunity looks like incredible new partnerships. We recently added Dion’s, Einstein Bagels, Burque Bakehouse, Verde Juice Company, and an expanded line from Ñocco Pasta. These partnerships alone would make for a solid team of local suppliers. But we have added them to the existing bread, meat, produce and dairy providers who make our offering so unique and special.
I was talking to one of our longtime members (like 10 years!) and while she was explaining to me how our food helps her cook better, she used the word “curated.” I found it to be such an incredible word to use with food. I think about that word with fine collections in a museum, but I had not really thought about it in terms of food I have to admit.
But maybe she was able to distill the mission of the farm down into a word, curated. Our goal has never been to bring folks everything under the sun. We go about our lives and along the path I have to say that I run into some pretty amazing people with tasty food. We have then woven these people into the fabric of our offering. We become dependent on them and them on us. Symbiotic partnerships that make us all stronger together than we could ever be alone.
These types of partnerships are what we will be focusing on this new year and for many years to come. I want to bring you quirky companies with extraordinary flavors. I have to say that I rarely have tried something from a grocery store and been blown away. I want to bring you something memorable.
Lastly this week, the Rise of the Scratch n Dent Box. No that is not a B Grade 1980s horror flick, it is our tribute to Ugly Produce. 3 weeks ago we launched the Scratch n Dent box ($15) with very few expectations. Since then though, I have been floored by the reception. It has grown to almost 1,000 lbs of produce a week right now. New customers signing up. Former customers coming back to the table. And calling growers to let them know that we have found a home for their Ugly Beauties. What a win-win situation. Happy New Year!