Cooperative Distribution the Key to Sustaining Local Food Production

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported on the trend of increased sales of locally grown food, explaining that consumers are putting " a lot more thought and effort into food, [and] sales of locally grown food are climbing, forcing changes in the U.S. food system, which excels at moving goods over long distances". The story puts a nice wrap on the drivers behind the trend: "Consumers have lots of reasons to buy local food when possible: They think it is fresher and more nutritious; they want to keep small farmers in business; they like unusual varieties of vegetables that do not ship well; they want their children to know that food ultimately comes from farms, not factories and supermarkets; and they think it saves energy". The money quote for a local context is: "The Food Trust said sales at farmers' markets it sponsored more than doubled from less than $500,000 in 2002 to more than $1 million last year, "A big part of the story is the formation of local cooperatives for distribution of locally produced food. One of the key local-food coop functions is developing packing and labeling standards that customers will appreciate. Another feature is letting customers review the cumulative inventory in one place. These are key to beating the "fresh from overseas" business model.

One new Lancaster Farm Fresh coop participant mentioned in the article is Scarecrow Hill Organic Farm in Ephrata, Pa . The website interface alone is worth a moment. Funny how a local production looks better even online.