Selling Local Food Online – Why Now?

The local food movement continues to build momentum.  Over 60% of consumers are more likely to buy locally sources food, with tech savvy Millennials leading the way.  We believe now is the time to connect local fresh food producers directly with consumers with the help of technology.

A few years back we were thinking about all the ways the internet has changed our world over time. In the early 90s, the first thing the internet was used for (over a modem no less) was search.Excite, launched in 1993, was the first search engine any of us can recall using. Amazon was founded in 1994. (Interestingly, Jeff Bezos incorporated the company as “Cadabra” on July 5, 1994. Bezos changed the name to Amazon a year later after a lawyer misheard its original name as “cadaver”.) A few years later we were all buying books online with abandon. The next industry to be changed for better or worse was music. Remember Napster? Then travel. Remember when we used to call someone to rent a car, book a hotel room, or buy a ticket for a flight? Then came Google, Facebook, iTunes, smart phones, Snapchat—and here we are today.

The internet has marched across almost every sector of business and made huge changes to that industry. But even after all these years, local farmers and ranchers still sell their food without the influence of the internet. More importantly, individuals and food providers still buy their food mostly in grocery stores or through distributors. Farmers markets and other local food aggregators have taken a little market share, but by and large, most calories are still purchased by people in grocery stores.

Personally, we were having a hard time finding local food for ourselves. With chickens in our back yard and an organic vegetable garden, we were able to supply most of our own food for about five months out of the year. But finding a full diet of local food year-round turned into a difficult process. Word of mouth led us to a local full-diet organic farm where we filled out a form, sent in our check, and bought a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share of meat for the summer, followed by a full-diet CSA share for the winter. At the same time, we started comparing notes with one of our chef friends. She had started what has become a very successful restaurant and was sourcing some of her ingredients, as best she could, locally. What’s more, when we looked at what our daughter was eating at school, we thought, “Wow, her meals could be so much better.”

That’s when we decided it’s time to leverage the internet and other mobile, easy-to-use technologies to change the way farmers and ranchers find customers—and to try to make it easier for people looking for local food to find those products. That is basically how Food4All was born. Our approach to local food is “Farmer First.” We want to make it really easy for a farmer and artisan food maker to sell their products online or at a farmers market. We also believe in making it easy for people and businesses looking for local food to find it in the quantities they need. If we do it right, maybe people will start buying food a new and better way—directly from the people who make it!

Read more about our Farmer First approach, and why we think those who take the time to grow and craft our food are local heroes.