Community-supported food suppliers on the rise

Articles
March 31, 2009

Community-supported food suppliers on the rise

Million-dollar homes are a stone’s throw away from Meyer’s Farm in Woodbury, Long Island. More produce growers used to cultivate nearby lands in what has become a tony suburb, but the Meyer family kept a swath of acreage and plies the community with corn, pumpkins, house plants and other earthly products year-round. Their special bond with customers is a win-win. They keep their profession alive, and customers buy from a trusted, local source they feel good about supporting. They know their food is local and has a low carbon footprint. Other farmers a few miles away draw repeat customers and passersby to their roadside tables and vans for fresh pies, ciders and vegetables. Meyer’s is a private enterprise, not a community-funded cooperative where people pay a fee and share set amounts of harvests. However, its relationship with the community it serves symbolizes a dynamic that repeats itself in countless pockets across the nation, and creates a vast American food network outside of supermarkets and other retailers. The appeals are food freshness, quality, value, confidence in local resources, and a unifying togetherness. Actual cooperatives are growing at a time when people feel unsettled by economic turmoil, and want to reconnect with some grounded elements in life. Think seafood (community-supported fisheries) and meat (community-supported butchers) as well as produce (community-supported agriculture)—all enabling people to eat healthier, preserve the environment, and help neighbors in the recession.

Million-dollar homes are a stone’s throw away from Meyer’s Farm in Woodbury, Long Island. More produce growers used to cultivate nearby lands in what has become a tony suburb, but the Meyer family kept a swath of acreage and plies the community with corn, pumpkins, house plants and other earthly products year-round.

Their special bond with customers is a win-win. They keep their profession alive, and customers buy from a trusted, local source they feel good about supporting. They know their food is local and has a low carbon footprint. Other farmers a few miles away draw repeat customers and passersby to their roadside tables and vans for fresh pies, ciders and vegetables.

Meyer’s is a private enterprise, not a community-funded cooperative where people pay a fee and share set amounts of harvests. However, its relationship with the community it serves symbolizes a dynamic that repeats itself in countless pockets across the nation, and creates a vast American food network outside of supermarkets and other retailers. The appeals are food freshness, quality, value, confidence in local resources, and a unifying togetherness.

Actual cooperatives are growing at a time when people feel unsettled by economic turmoil, and want to reconnect with some grounded elements in life. Think seafood (community-supported fisheries) and meat (community-supported butchers) as well as produce (community-supported agriculture)—all enabling people to eat healthier, preserve the environment, and help neighbors in the recession.

Economics are driving the success of Port Clyde Fresh Catch, a community-supported fishery based in Rockland, Maine. In the winter, PCFC supplies wild shrimp from Maine waters at $1.50 a pound—a great deal for consumers who belong, and also for the fishermen, who would otherwise be paid 30 to 40 cents a pound by wholesalers, according to a Boston Globe report.  In the summer, PCFC supplies a variety of fish at $2.50 to $3.75 a pound.

The community-supported fishery is good for the environment too because fishermen that get higher prices for their catch can afford to fish less aggressively, reports the Globe. “This gives average consumers a way to help,” Glen Libby of the Midcoast Fishermen’s Cooperative told the paper.

And back on Long Island, Billy Joel can be heard singing the praises of Oyster Bay lobstermen, brethren of the New Englanders who are finding a community-supported solution to their economic squeeze. This could catch on, and we at SupermarketGuru.com couldn’t be happier about it.