Slow Food and Fast Living Make Strange Bedfellows
CitySprout is an online community that expanded into Austin for North Texas residents from its New England base last month, where like-minded people can form a marketplace to attract offers from local food producers.
“I have witnessed the ways in which developing technology has redefined the idea of community,” says CitySprout co-founder and lead developer Gabriel Odess-Gillett. “Instead of assuming that the world of technology should somehow be at odds with the slow food movement, we believe that the two are natural allies!”
CitySprout is a bit like a CSA (community supported agriculture) for people that don’t want the initial outlay of several hundred dollars or like a co-op with no membership fees or minimums, It represents the latest in a growing number of online solutions linking local farmers and small-scale artisanal food makers to customers.
Individuals can find or start a community at CitySprout.com by entering their zip code. If there is already a group forming, they can join it or start their own. The group can be neighborhood-based, can include people at work workplace or can comprise a group of like-minded friends. The idea is to get a critical mass of people that will agree to consider product offers from local food producers and meet at a central location to pick up whatever they buy.
CitySprout helps by providing postcards, door hangers and flyers with a community-specific web address to spread the word. “As your community grows, small farms and local food producers will begin to take notice,” CitySprout spokesperson Garrett Fitzgerald explains. “Your local food producers will begin posting offers of fresh, local food that you will receive via email; everything from organic produce and pasture-raised meats to artisanal products like honey, coffee, specialty cheeses and freshly baked bread.” Orders are delivered at a convenient, predetermined time and location and CitySprout adds a 15 percent transaction fee.
CitySprout also seeks to improve food distribution on an environmental, social and economic level. “The distance that a simple tomato travels to make it onto the shelves of your local superstore is enormous,” says another CitySprout co-founder, Will Trienens. “With each delivery requiring trucking, refrigeration, packaging and handling, the carbon footprint for U.S. food distribution is staggering. By minimizing the distance your food has to travel to get to your table, CitySprout significantly reduces carbon emissions and environmental harm associated with food distribution.”
Participating farms earn a greater profit by cutting out chain superstores and conglomerate middlemen, thus feeling more comfortable about offering CitySprout customers affordable pricing not usually associated with sustainably produced, farm fresh food.
For more information see CitySprout.com.