The Pacific Northwest has an obsession with local food; an obsession that started long before eating local became a trend. With ample orchards, farms, vineyards and a healthy coastline the region is known for its year-round bounty, and in an area that’s so rich in all kinds of food, working with the local community to put food on the table is not only a sustainable choice, but an economic one. A choice that ultimately builds community and makes the region stronger.
But with so many farmers, fishermen and foodies, how does one keep track of all the options? Food Hub might just be the answer.
Launched by Portland-based non-profit Ecotrust, Food Hub combines the functionalities of a social network with smart marketing strategies that put an emphasis on local, allowing food service professionals who want to buy local food to easily access growers and processors that have exactly what they’re looking for. In fact, Ecotrust’s vice-president of food and farms Deborah Kane went as far as to call it “the Facebook of local food, or the Match.com for food buyers and food sellers.”
Although focused on the professional side of the food industry – the website can only be accessed by regional food buyers and sellers – Food Hub will have a very direct effect on Northwest consumers, who will quickly reap the benefits. As of last month the site had over 600 members, and that included buyers for not only restaurants, but schools, hospitals and resorts.
Supported by various foundations and individuals, Ecotrust also worked closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the Washington State Department of Agriculture to develop Food Hub, proof that institutions can be visionaries when it comes to food policy.
While many of us foodies have made a conscious effort to buy local and support the food culture of the regions that we live in, large scale alimentary change has to be teamed with infrastructural shifts, and if it’s successful in the coming months, Food Hub could easily become that model.
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.
Image: Anna Brones