Website ‘LocalLocal’ Seeks to Provide Food-Chain Transparency

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Online directory connects users to authentic local food

“There is a growing distrust in industrial food, a system that’s flawed in many ways... what’s lacking is transparency. LocalLocal aims to help conscious consumers vote with their dollars.” -Reed Shelger, Founder

The steady growth of farmers’ markets and farm-to-table restaurants are indicative of the popularity of local food. But how do ‘Locavores’, the 70% of consumers who are willing to pay more for food produced close to home, know if their food is truly local? The recently launched website, LocalLocal, is making sure establishments that advertise local fare can back up their claims.

LocalLocal provides an online directory for restaurants, farms, and other food retailers that procure and sell locally produced food, making it easy for consumers to find authentic local food in their area. In order to prevent “local-washing,” the falsification or exaggeration of claims related to local sourcing, the website offers users food chain transparency.

“There is a growing distrust in industrial food, a system that’s flawed in many ways,” said founder Reed Shelger, who holds an MBA from Rice University and worked for several years as a consultant for large food companies. “What’s lacking is transparency. LocalLocal aims to help conscious consumers vote with their dollars.”

LocalLocal uses source verification to keep businesses honest. Here’s how it works. First, farms establish profiles on LocalLocal, providing pictures and descriptions of growing practices. Profiles can also include third party certifications such as USDA Organic. Next, when restaurants and other purveyors of local food register with LocalLocal, they list the producers from which they source ingredients. Only after confirmation from the farmer and/or rancher, is the sourcing relationship verified.

LocalLocal also provides a “Products Available” function that allows farmers to list what they produce, including details such as seasonal availability and production capacity. This feature is intended to help restaurants find the ingredients they need from farms near them.

The mission of LocalLocal is to provide greater access to locally and sustainably produced food. “Local food is a more environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to food coming out of massive factory farms. Production on a smaller scale allows better treatment of land and animals,” said Shelger.

Currently, LocalLocal is self-funded and there is no charge to use or be listed in the directory. The company’s focus is on marketing the service to increase the number of users and eventually expand the database nationwide. Shelger also hopes to launch a mobile app in the near future. For more information, visit http://www.locallocal.com.

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Emily Shankar
LocalLocal
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since: 11/2014
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