live|work: Service My Stomach

This week's post is as much about drawing attention to a new UK food service "If-food?", and eliciting feedback on it, as it is advertising the need for a business partner in the venture. So, if this idea resonates with you and you are the type that can run with and take a new business venture to market (maybe you've done it before or you know someone who would be perfect), please get in touch via email. This venture is in prototype phase.

If-food? goes a step beyond the organic fruit and veg home delivery box and seeks to close the gap between an increasing demand for organic AND locally produced food and the need to make sustainable food accessible to a wider (and eventually mass) market, ie, those of us that do not have the time or creative skill to cook seasonally inspired dinners from a veggie box each week. So, that's those of us who want to source sustainable food but may not want to receive organic produce in a box once a week because, hell, we have no control over the process (no choice) and understand very little about the sourcing of the food (the local knowledge). Oh, and then we have to cook something from it!

If-food? responds to the need to part educate and sell the food chain process and part serve. It puts a service model in place to support the consumption of sustainable food — organic and locally sourced produce (where possible). It's a product supported by a service system and it enables the trading of food miles.

The (membership) service provides sustainable food knowledge and access to a choice of foods delivered directly to you via your workplace. The service does the thinking and sourcing of sustainable food for you because frankly this is currently a timely and demanding process.

It's a small-scale venture with potential for tipping the market. The disruptive innovation in the service is consumer knowledge and access. At the moment it is very hard for a consumer to really evaluate a sustainable food purchase and to source a basket of food. It would take all day. This service comes in to do the work for you and bring choice to your doorstep with the help of the If-food? delivery team. Instead of dropping off a box of pre-selected organic produce the team will help inform your purchase of food and design a week's worth of suppers if you want to.

If-food? has mapped the complete food chain for its selection of produce by working with producers and distributors alike to ensure the food on sale is produced organically and locally. No two services will be the same for the reason that 'locally' takes on a different meaning wherever you live. Every aspect of the food chain is made transparent to the consumer, empowering them to make informed choices about their purchase and to 'mix n match' their miles.

The idea of locally produced food is that it reduces the miles between production of food and consumption. With this in mind If-food? also provides a platform to connect the producer and the consumer, closing the gap that supermarkets have so successfully created and, potentially, designing out market assumptions. So if there's a specific demand for something or if the consumer is not happy with the way the food is being delivered, If-food? will support/enable dialogue between the two. And that in itself is a service innovation!

Recognising that locally produced food is not always 100% possible to achieve, If-food? is modelled on 'backcasting' — that means working with the ideal sustainable food scenario in mind and getting as close to it as possible ie, working backward from the benchmark. And all of this made transparent to the consumer.

Eat this up someone.

Written by Tamara Giltsoff