Building the Google of Local Food – One Byte at a Time

In PROJECT POSTS

When we set out to build an app to support local food, I would never have imagined that in a world so advanced, information technology had largely overlooked the very sector that sustains us – our food supply.

My thinking was, “what an incredibly cool opportunity for a food obsessed tech entrepreneur such as myself!” So I started to take a close look at the systemic problems that exist in food production and distribution and how they could be solved with information technology. 

I am certainly no authority on the topic of food security nor do I expect to resolve all of the problems that have befallen our food supply. But it doesn’t take a genius to look at what’s going on around us to realize that with climate change, population growth and a shrinking agriculture base, we can’t keep this party going much longer. And when you keep turning the pages on this chicken-little-like story, it is clear that the local food renaissance is no accident.

FreskSpoke supports local production and consumption. What that looks like and who’s involved in this ecosystem – a symbiotic network of interconnected players – is a mystery that will be revealed over time. But there is no system in this ecosystem. Yes, the cold hard fact is there is nothing to connect the people and places our food supply depends upon. We liken it to the French underground – you know the guy to the left and the guy to the right; beyond that it’s anyone’s guess.

The trend to eat local is picking up momentum and with it comes more apps, more government sponsored programs, certifications, support organizations, events….the list goes on. For producers and sellers, this is a blessing and a curse. Sure, the promotion is great but with every new initiative comes one more 6 page application, one more relationship to manage, one more listing to go stale.

Then there’s the whole question of what is local. If you live in Whitby, work in Toronto, cottage in Muskoka and vacation in Florida, local becomes a moving target. Heck I live in Barrie and purchase wine and peaches from the Niagara Region. I think that’s local but not everyone agrees. I say, who cares! Local is relative so why jump from platform to platform in order to source what’s around you at that moment in time?

The system is inefficient, restrictive and fragmented and begs a simple solution that cuts through the noise and clutter to centralize and distribute local food intelligence so the ecosystem is more transparent and the information is reliable and accessible.

That’s what we have set out to do. To provide a solid and responsive platform on which people and places in the local food ecosystem can connect and celebrate local food. Dare I say, a “google” for local food.

At FreskSpoke, we know we are a small part of the solution but with traction, just imagine the economic impact a platform like this can have in boosting local economies and improving traceability,  not to mention what we can learn about supply and demand from the intelligence gathered.

But it all comes down to the simple fact: fresh and local food is just better! And that’s what it’s all about – the enjoyment and satisfaction that comes from growing and eating local food. So I am excited about the grassroots and policy momentum that’s building around this initiative and the great support we have received for our platform.

Over time our blog will talk about many topics related to local food and shamelessly share a few of our own discoveries and milestones along the way.

 

Marcia Woods is the co-founder of FreskSpoke, a social-mobile platform that will release its alpha version in the summer of 2014.  You can connect with Marcia on Linkedin and FreskSpoke’s progress on facebook and twitter

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