Recent Articles About Local Eats

Farm teams are a fixture of the baseball world. But perhaps only in Fresno, California, home of the minor league team the Fresno Grizzlies, has the notion of a farm team been taken so literally.

At the Grizzlies’ Chukchansi Park downtown, the churros, cotton candy, and other junk food that define America’s pastime have been joined by Farm Grown Fridays, a farmers’ market set up at Friday home games that includes a roving “Mr. Pistachio” handing out locally grown nuts while posing for selfies. Read more

When local cucumbers crop up in your grocery aisle and local strawberries find their way into your kid’s cafeteria, you might just have a food hub to thank.

These out-of-sight aggregators connect local growers to regional markets around the country and their explosive numbers mirror the growth of the larger local food craze. In fact, the number of food hubs has doubled over the past eight years, to more than 350 across the country. Read more

Until recently, Vermont dairy farmer Jack Lazor has been an enthusiastic grain famer. The owner of Butterworks Farm, Lazor spent years growing grains—for animals and people—and then wrote a conversational and encyclopedic guide on grain growing in the Northeast The Organic Grain Grower. In person and on the page, the affable man offers advice on tools and practices for grain growing, harvest, and storage. Read more

At Market Table Bistro in Lovestville, Virginia, you can order a sustainable, pasture-raised cheeseburger with sautéed onions, herb mayo, cheese, and bacon for $14. At the nearby fast-casual Elevation Burger in Ashburn, Virginia, the standard two-patty organic grassfed burger will set you back about $7. Travel to the closest Hardee’s, in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, and the double all-natural grassfed burger there will cost you approximately $6.49 or about $4.89 for a single.

The demand for grassfed beef is growing by at least 20 percent a year in the U.S. and the number of restaurants and burger chains serving grassfed and pasture-raised burgers is also growing rapidly. But just how they define and verify the practices behind those terms can be murky business. (We covered some of that here). While some sustainable food advocates find the growth of the entire grassfed industry to be a heartening sign of shifting mass market demand, the grassfed burger market may be growing so quickly that it’s undermining some of the original intention behind the shift. Read more

When it comes to buying a local loaf of bread, most food conscious consumers find that supporting a small neighborhood bakery fits the criteria just fine.

But for longtime restaurateur Bob Klein, the owner of Oliveto in Oakland, California, that wasn’t enough. Klein, whose restaurant draws from Northern California’s bounty of vegetables, fish, and meat for its Italian-inspired meals, was troubled that he couldn’t find a local source of whole grain flour to make pasta. Read more

Northfield, Minnesota may have to add “CSAs” to their town motto “cows, colleges, and contentment.” Forty minutes south of Minneapolis, this small town is becoming a Midwest hot spot for sustainable agriculture. In the past seven years, 14 young, small-scale, and sustainably minded farmers have started farms within 12 miles of Northfield. They include six diverse vegetable CSAs, three orchards, two livestock operations, one flower farm, a cider mill, and a homesteading artistic community. Read more

Over the last few years, the agriculture industry has gotten pretty tech savvy. Farmers use mobile technology to manage inventory and billing, check the weather, see exactly where their livestock is grazing, and even predict crop yields—not to mention staying connected to customers through social media.

On the sales front, a number of of startups—including Farmigo, Full Circle, Barn2Door, and Good Eggs—have been working to connect customers to local and organic food that comes direct from producers. Their approaches differ slightly, but they all essentially give farmers and other food producers an online marketplace to sell their wares. Several even go the last mile and arrange for the product’s delivery, while a few leave distribution in the hands of the producer.

Online sales of local food is a hot and crowded—saturated, some say—segment of the larger tech boom. Investors have poured $1.65 billion into more than 100 farm e-commerce companies serving mainly small to midsized producers, according to AgFunder.

But are these e-commerce and food delivery startups actually making it any easier for small and sustainably-minded producers to make a living? Read more

The hardest part of working on a book highlighting California coastal farmers? Whittling the list of potential subjects down to a dozen growers who shine on the edge of the Golden State.

In Farmsteads of the California Coast (Yellow Pear Press, April 18), photographer Erin Scott and writer Sarah Henry teamed up to do just that. The book introduces readers to greens growers, oystermen, berry farmers, coffee producers, and even water buffalo whisperers. Read more