Navigating the Local Food System with RealTimeFarms.com
The local food movement in the United States has continued to evolve over the past several decades, with local food systems growing immensely, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Direct-to-consumer marketing of local foods totaled USD$1.2 billion in 2007, compared with USD$551 million only a decade before. The number of farmers markets in the United States quadrupled from 1994 to 2013, expanding from 1,755 to 8,144 markets nationwide. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) saw even greater gains. In two decades, the number of national CSAs exploded from a total of 2 in 1986 to 1,144 in 2005. Early, conservative 2012 estimates showed the number of CSAs exceeding 4,500, leading the USDA to believe that there were over 6,000 operating at the time. As the local food system continues to expand, RealTimeFarms.com aims to help consumers take advantage of this growth.
RealTimeFarms.com, dubbed by Huffington Post as “The Future of Food Guides” and recently acquired by Food52, is a nationwide food guide that allows you to trace the food you eat back to the farm. The site’s Food Web links you to thousands of farms, food artisans, farmers markets, and eateries that source local food. The organizations featured on their Food Web are documented by Food Warriors, educational interns who visit farms, the artisans’ places of work, and markets to document growing practices and general procedures. Site visitors can also search for local food vendors using the location finder or map on the main page.
By making the trail of food from farm to fork more visible RealTimeFarms.com enables consumers to make more informed choices about what they eat. Being aware of where food comes from will allow consumers to help build both local communities and a sustainable food system.