“Nobody said it was going to be easy”, said a mentor of mine after telling him about From the Farmer, “…food is hard”.
Every carrot pulled, tomato plucked or egg laid takes a tremendous amount of work done by many. Forget the weather, fluctuating external prices like the cost of fuel, feed or fertilizer that no one person or continent can control (or understand) or the volatility of the commodities market. Instead, let’s just talk about the basics.
What makes good food good?
Is it local? Is it organic? Or is it a more holistic approach that involves the farmer, his crew and the land?
These are very important questions often difficult to answer in a constantly shifting landscape as a business grows and customer expectations shift with new advancements in tech and the unveiling of a sloganeer’s newest campaign like – All Hail Kale!
And so, let me take you on a thoughtful journey that best describes our sourcing practices that take fruit form and end up at your front door and ultimately, on your plate. Why? Because I care deeply about who grows it and how it gets there and personally, I fail to eat even the tiniest frozen pea without thinking who grew this pea; where; how sustainable are their growing practices; is the labor crew ethically treated with respect and dignity; do they have animals; are the animals raised humanely; do they have a name; a paddock to run freely; plenty to eat; do they feel the sun on their back and muddy grasses on their walking sticks when it rains?
This may all sound a bit cavalier, but know it’s calculated – and honestly, I have to be, as it’s my job to ask these questions and I do so with gusto! You see, direct to consumer grocery delivery is uncharted territory. It’s no Wild West, but we are, in essence, embarking on a new frontier that disrupts traditional grocery stores and Old World market shopping habits much like Piggly Wiggly did over a hundred years ago.
Internally, we have a running debate about food, market trends and the new direction we should take as a company. We call it The Great Banana Debate. This debate forces us to think locally, but understand that consumer grocery habits are international: this is something we cannot change. We’re too well traveled and too educated to be satisfied by the same gruel week after week. Like you, I eat lemons and avocados because I like the way they taste. I hope that they’re organic or from a good farm, but at the end of the day, if I have a hankering, I will buy it – not for lack of willpower, but for strength of appetite and to appease my desire because that’s the economy we all live in.. a convenience economy.
I know what you’re thinking, “But can’t convenience be local too?”
Yes, but to an extent. We’ve experimented here and, in years past, we delivered strictly local goods all-winter-long where items like kale, potatoes and onions appeared so frequently they were stuck on repeat. Now, each season is rife with unique challenges (remember Snowzilla), but no season is more difficult for us here than winter. The variety and volume of produce that’s available locally is very limited and lacks that exciting umph.
We got bored and our customers did too. So, after consulting with our partner growers here locally, after issuing and analyzing multiple customers surveys, sending out blog posts and even hosting a customer brunch for more feedback, we decided that local can’t be everything.
It can be a lot, but it can’t satisfy the foods we simply must have and love so dearly. And so, as evident by the results of said surveys, we began sourcing from further afield instead of of just buying solely what’s locally available, come turnip or rutabaga.
This was not an easy decision however, we wanted that exciting umph back and we were determined to make that possible. This means sourcing our namesake and buying directly From the Farmer because it’s not just about the food being good, it’s about the people. As curators, it’s our job to continue to be highly selective and partner only with those farms and cooperatives who share our values and support their local communities in the way we like to support ours. But to do so, we must seek out the best quality goods and the best growing practices – wherever they may be – as we strive to tell you exactly where your food comes from each and every week.
At the end of the day, good food can satisfy more than just our appetite. A vibrant, purposeful food system can provide families and farmers with a secure income while protecting our environment and meeting the growing demand for fresh, safe, healthy food. So let’s support more farmers together and let’s start doing that, now.
Use butter, use salt.
Head of Sourcing