Local Food/Tech Landscape

We at FoodHub have become junkies. We were having a heckuva time keeping up with the innovation explosion happening in our sector, so we designed this nifty mental model to help us keep it straight. Local Food/Tech Landscape is an interactive infographic that categorizes local food/technology innovations by their role in a new alternative food system. Start here: Criteria & Caveats.

              Criteria & Caveats

              Here’s the deal, we totally want to debate the finer points of who goes where and who we missed, etc. (preferably over a locally-sourced libation), so please leave us a comment. We’ll make adjustments, get in touch, chat via our blog, Facebook, Twitter (or ignore you if you’re being snarky or mean). Please take note:

              • Who’s Included

                The focus of this infographic is to highlight innovators at the intersection of local food and technology. To be included, there must be:
                • Technology integral to the model (just having a snappy website isn’t enough)
                • Some minimum criteria or focus on local, sustainable or otherwise “good” food
                • Available nationally, or being piloted regionally with an intention to scale
              • Local

                Like most mainstream eaters do, we use the word “local” as a catch-all for local, regional, sustainable, socially responsible, humane, clean, “good” or any relevant combination of specific claims related to production methods. It’s not perfect, but it’s quick and easy and people know what we’re talking about.
              • Conjecture and Hearsay

                No, we didn’t vet our categorization through the innovators themselves — we read their sites and available media and asked around, just like a potential customer, investor or reporter would. That said, we’re happy to fix errors, so if we’ve made one, please tell us. Want to add your own conjecture or hearsay? We want to read that too.
              • No, this isn’t everybody.

                Not only are innovators and entrepreneurs percolating on new ideas in the local food space daily (it really does feel like the dot com sector circa 1997), there are hundreds of local and regional players we skipped over entirely. Think of this as a starting point, we’d love to hear where it takes you…

              Context

              None of these ideas exist in a vacuum! Food/technology innovators have symbiotic relationships with colleagues working on other aspects of fixing the food system:

              “Associates”
              Our catch-all phrase for the community of practice working to build robust regional food economies, but not buying or selling food themselves. Includes industry suppliers, NGOs, foundations, government agencies, certifiers, trade associations, academic/research institutions, extension offices, media, etc.
              Shared Missions
              Although we’re highlighting food system solutions that are (intended to be) financially self-sustaining, there are important causes that require strong advocacy and policy support, such as farm to school/hospital, food justice/sovereignty, farmworker rights and training, rural economic development, regional resilience, transparency, traceability, and food safety.
              Producer Support
              Supply is where it’s at! Keeping farmers successfully on their land is a vital mission that will feed us all. Applause to all those working on new and beginning farmer training, access to capital, succession planning, land links, business advising, GAP and HACCP certification preparedness, broadband access and the like.
              Environment
              Food may be the new green, but the debates over inputs and intended outcomes lead back to the same wells: water quality and scarcity, soil health, biodiversity, clean energy, waste management, farmland preservation, population growth, yields, globalization and climate change, to name a few.

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              Farming Tech tools for producers
              Getting stuff to grow is the fun part, getting your food into the mouths of hungry eaters is trickier. Software can help streamline your CSA, plan your pick-and-pack, and manage your memberships. Watch the clouds on this page multiply as young, tech-savvy beginning farmers and ranchers seek technology solutions to production challenges.
              Aggregating Software for food hubs, co-ops and other aggregators
              Need software to manage your food hub, co-op or farmers’ market? Aggregating local food is a saucy logistics challenge full of picky eaters and persnickety personalities – software can help keep them (and your volunteers) on track by helping process transactions, manage vendors and coordinate fulfillment.
              Distributing Models that move food
              It’s the biggest barrier to building robust regional food economies, actually moving food from point A to point B. Replete with ripe produce and regulatory red tape, it’s a complicated industry on the cusp of disruptive innovation. These entrepreneurs are leveraging technology to help widen the pipeline for smaller scale, socially responsible producers.
              FindingSites dedicated to discovery
              Where can I find a restaurant that serves local food? Where’s my closest farmers’ market? How can I find farmers to buy from directly for my craft food business? These sites focus on discovery – find food, connect with producers, see who’s doing local in your locale.
              Buying Transaction processing platforms
              Online shopping for local food – browse these catalogs and buy anything from a single gift wrapped bean-to-bar chocolate delivered to your door, to truckloads of potatoes delivered to your dock. These sites process transactions and facilitate fulfillment.
              ResourcesSupport for local food/tech innovators
              Find funding. Get legal advice. Hire staff. Tap into the local food movement. Not strictly tech innovators here, this category was added to highlight the ecosystem of resources and service providers helping build the local food sector.