A couple of years ago we made a film with Mark Mendez, then chef of Carnivale, about the problems of trying to buy directly from farmers when you're an operation the size of, well, Carnivale. Mendez may have left Carnivale for his own Vera, but the problem of hooking farmers and restaurants up at a cost that diners will reasonably pay hasn't gone away, and it was Mendez who first mentioned to us a new company aiming to bring a larger scale of distribution to the farm to table movement. Now Mike Sula has the full story behind the company, Local Foods Grocer, founded by Dave Rand (formerly of the Green City Market and Q7 Ranch) and Andrew Lutsey, a finance guy with a farm and ice cream background in his family. Interestingly in a field which is often viewed in terms of Small Us vs. Big Them, that's not at all how they see the farmer-and-restaurant-focused distribution network they're trying to create:
"You can't always look at your competitors as competitors," says Lutsey. "Sometimes you're gonna be partners, because the long-term viability of this business is built on everyone becoming more efficient. And there's only one way to do that, and it is not for us all to be buying our own trucks and hiring our own laborers."
It's a fascinating look at the practical reality of changing the food system from within, and highly recommended. [Reader]