Innovation. If you have been paying attention to the food movement of late, you know one of the issues is the scalability of local farming. In a perfect world, Walmart and the other big box supermarkets would source all of their fresh produce locally. It makes a lot of sense, right? Support local economies, less transportation costs, and better quality. But to make that happen, Walmart needs massive amounts of produce to meet the demand of their millions of customers. It does not work to buy small batches of produce from local, independent farms. Walmart needs to use the big factory farms to make sure they have the volume. Or do they?
Enter innovation. Welcome to the new world of food hubs and food aggregation. Smart entrepreneurs are developing networks for gathering the crops of smaller farmers into larger quantities, so that they can fulfill the large orders from bigger supermarkets. There are even now online tools for a restaurant, for example, to make large orders, and the company behind the website has built the infrastructure to source from multiple farms, aggregate the product, and then deliver it to the restaurant. And scaling up means more business and profits for the farmer as more of his/her crop is getting to market. No more small-time CSAs or farmer markets, but a legitimate business model! The result: local, independent farming can be a sustainable way of life. And a broken food system that relies on factory farms has a truly viable alternative.