ST. LOUIS — We’ve been working quietly for that last several months on something quite big in Middle America.
In the local food movement, there’s been a lot of focus on the higher ends of the market and particularly the coasts, we’ve sort of reached a plateau. If we don’t get TASTY, affordable, sustainable, local produce to everyone, while taking care of our independent farmers, changing our entire food system is never going to happen. Today, we got a little closer...
This week at select Schnucks Markets locations in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, you can find Steve’s Butter Lettuce of Amanzi Farms. Steve Hamra is a multi-generation, family farmer out of Sikeston, Missouri, who has spent most of his life growing food to meet the nutritional needs for Missouri school children.
It’s not only quite difficult for independent farmers to sell into big chains like Schnucks, but it’s also hard for retailers to work with independent, local farms that don’t meet their minimums and food inspection requirements.
With the help of Steve’s farm manager CJ Henry — who makes the impossible possible every hour on the hour, we have been working together with our friends from the Schuncks Produce team to prepare for the first shipments of highly nutritious, Missouri-grown Butter Lettuce. CJ is also helping other farms in her community to get USDA GAP Certified (Good Agricultural Practices), a level of inspection that big retailers like Schnucks require, to bring more local farms on line.
Foodshed.io’s technology platform is streamlining the marketing, vendor certification, logistics and food safety process that will allow more farms in the Sikeston area, as well as those in our Springfield, IL hub to easily get their produce to market, just like we did from our Long Island and Hudson, NY hubs in New York City. We essentially help bring these independent farms in reach of these larger markets and make it easy for big retailers to work with them.
Together, we are not only helping to build the agricultural community of Sikeston, but also helping the greater urban areas nearby to have a greater understanding of the food grown around them, as well as a deeper connection to those who grow it.
MOST importantly — Steve’s Butter Lettuce tastes amazing and is being sold at exactly the same low price as the faraway lettuce its replacing. Our mission is to make sure that quality, nutritious, YUMMY, REAL, sustainable local produce is within reach of people everywhere — at a price they can afford. If we win people on flavor, we’ve all done our job!
We have not given up on our roots in New York City — we have some similar plans in the works there too, but these Missourians dared us to “Show Me” some good produce — and coincidentally, making quality, local produce affordable year-round in Middle America actually means we can make it anywhere.
We have a lot more hard work to do, but we can’t thank Schnucks, Steve & CJ at Amanzi Farms, Joe Buffa the Produce Legend and frankly the entire local & sustainable food community in St. Louis as well as the New York Area for being so supportive in getting us to this point where people can now buy Foodshed Locally Sourced produce, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — and it’s just the beginning.