Internet Locavore: 10 Online Resources for Finding Local Food
As a new era of food sensibility grows, the intersection of technology and sustainable farming is spurring the development of a variety of tools to better connect the conscious consumer with locally grown foods. Guided by the ideal of local living in a global economy, a wave of shoppers are setting out to participate in the Eat Local Challenge or create their own 100 mile diet.
Others just want to bring more sustainable, organically grown food into their diets or are choosing to use their dollars to support local food networks. Finding this local food has gotten a lot easier, thanks in part to numerous online resources that are bringing together maps, food data, and farm databases so that locavores can easily access their eats, no matter where they live.
The Eat Well Guide is a comprehensive source for finding locally grown food anywhere in the United States and Canada. Search by keyword, zip code, or region and get a list of CSAs , restaurants, farms, retailers, and more. Their sustainable food travel guide let’s you input the starting location and final destination for your next trip, then returns your route pinned with a handy list of food resources along the way. Print out your guide to take with you, or choose one of their other downloadable guides on the regional food in your area.
Local Harvest offers another comprehensive resource for finding farms, markets, restaurants, and more. Choose your location on the map and then browse through the extensive list of CSAs , farmer’s markets, restaurants, farms, ranches, and others – all offering local fare in your area. Find event details, read local reviews, or search through descriptions of providers in your region.
At Farms Reach, the “web hub for local grub,” food buyers and food producers can create accounts and coordinate the logistics around getting locally grown food from the farm to the table. Still in the beta version, the tools aren’t available in all areas. In those regions where it is available (such as San Francisco), buyers can create an account, search by specific types of food and within a certain radius, and then workout the delivery details with the food producer.
In search of grass-fed beef and free range chickens in your area? Eat Wild brings together comprehensive information for the omnivore in search of a more sustainable meal. The destination for information on grass-fed beef, bison, lamb, pork, poultry, and more Eat Wild offers a farm directory that is a great resource for finding farmers and ranchers in your community who support sustainable practices. Choose your state from their directory of pasture-based farms, browse farm descriptions, and check out the Google Maps mashup to find offerings closest to your area. Their state-by-state “Beyond the Farm” pages offer more information on buyer’s clubs, farmer’s markets and retailers, and restaurants in your area that offer grass-fed meat.
Gardeners unite. Hyperlocavore brings together the familiar concepts of CSAs and edible estates in the form of yardshares. Similar to a community garden, hyperlocavores get together to share land, skills, and time, all in the name of growing more food. On the Hyperlocavore website, yardsharers can create profiles, connect with like-minded locals, get resources on gardening, and share inspiration.
VeggieTrader is trying to solve the problem of backyard overabundance. By joining the community, you can post listings of your own garden excess and search your neighbors to see what others are offering. The idea is simple, a lot of homegrown food goes to waste because one family simply cannot handle it all. With VeggieTrader, you can swap your tomatoes for apples. Or squash. Or lettuce.
Those in the Bay Area can get involved in ForageSF, a wild foods community. By joining the CSF (like a CSA but a “community supported forage”), members receive a box of wild foraged foods. Items included may include wild mushrooms, nettles, miner’s lettuce, cattails, fresh fruit, and sea food. Items are collected by intrepid foragers from local forest areas and the ocean.
Further north, Urban Edibles connects Portlanders to wild food scattered throughout Stumptown. The community database notates and maps edible food sources that fall on public land. Nut trees, berry patches, dandelion roots, and others all have a place on the map if they’re growing on public land, sidewalk spots, or abandoned lots.
There’s an App for That
Keep local food at your fingertips where ever you are with apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The Locavore app has held a top spot in the iTunes app store. Now with version 2.0, you can check which food is in season for your region, search markets in your area (using data pulled in from Local Harvest), and connect to Facebook to post your food finds. The app automatically detects your location, provides you with list of foods that are in season, coming into season, or on their way out, and gives you access to Wikipedia articles and Epicurious recipes for specific eats. Iphone-less peeps can checkout the Facebook app version.
The iLocavore app from Locallectual is for more than just food. The app detects your location and then brings you a list of locally grown foods and locally made products for you to browse. The app offers information on CSAs , farmer’s markets, and independent grocers, although more offerings and better refinement criteria would increase the effectiveness of the app.