Using Technology to Build Food Communities
“Technology doesn’t replace personal relationships, but can enhance them.”
by Mona Amin, Director of Business Development at Freshspire
I love strolling through my local farmer’s market, knowing that I’m supporting my local farmers and economy -- but it’s hard to meal prep when the market is only open for 4 hours every Saturday. Grocery stores are convenient because I have consistent access to a variety of products, but the local food section always seems to be lacking. Why can’t we easily access farm fresh food at our grocery stores? The simple answer is - it can be complicated. You have to think about how ordering happens on the store’s end. They have to consider communication, crop planning, location of farms, transportation logistics, crop spoilage, time, and many other factors.
If a restaurant or grocery store wanted to buy local food today, they would have to find farmers through conferences or word of mouth. Once a relationship is created, orders are primarily managed through call, text, or email. There are so many details to work out, and there is no effective digital solution. So, it can quickly get cumbersome for a buyer to manage orders when every farmer communicates in a different way. At Freshspire, I’ve helped design a platform that takes into consideration the nuances of this market - so that we have a product that works for farmers and buyers interested in local food.
But one of my favorite things about local food communities is the community. I’ve learned that it functions on trust and personal relationships, two things that are key in getting nutritious and healthy food to consumers like me. I think that this will always be the case, and that it should. That being said, technology can cultivate new relationships to grow local food ecosystems. I made it a point to design Freshspire in a manner that does NOT replace personal relationships, but enhances them. I believe in empowering our users to create relationships that they wouldn’t have otherwise created. Local food communities can only be made stronger by the people who are in it, and we can definitely use technology to help form them. Here’s to making local food more accessible, and to making my meal prep easier :p