The problem, I find, with the food industry is that…
Soon after you feed your customers, they are hungry again and they come back for more.
This pressure of continual hunger from your customers has put a great strain on the industry, encouraging businesses to fill that hunger need with whatever means possible. This pressure is true not only for the little local minded food businesses, but also for the large multinational food corporations.
You can go into a fast food chain and find the same hamburger across North America because of the demand for consistency for that hamburger. And you can also find chefs of small restaurants sacrificing sleep whilst they scour the city for a bag of locally grown onions for tomorrows special because there is a demand for the knowledge of where your food comes from. The pressure is the same for all sectors of the food industry.
If you own and/or operate a restaurant, food truck, grocery store or bakery, sourcing local food has many challenges, availability being the biggest. A lot of energy can be used to find the quality and quantity of ingredients you need when you’re trying to source locally. The production of most food is reliant on the environment and in our northern city of Edmonton we know all too well the contrast of the seasons.
Despite this there are many worthy reasons to be a purveyor of local food, everything from flavor and freshness to food security and sustainability.
With every challenge comes opportunity and it is here that many benefits of involvement in local food are found. The foundational benefit to engaging the local food life is precisely what the previous guest blogger, Carol Neuman, pointed out, “when it comes to local food, community is a verb, not a noun.”
The purveyors of locally sourced food in Edmonton make up a community of energetic, passionate, hard working and dedicated people (precisely the kind of people I am attracted to). They work together to not only fill the daily hunger of the growing number of Edmonton locavores but also to educate and involve themselves in the food they eat.
Sometimes it feels like a highly organized leaderless swarm of bees. It can be magical. Yet unbeknownst to most of the worker bees, they are an essential part of the ever evolving culture of Edmonton. The best part, I find, with the food industry is that soon after you feed your customers, they are hungry again and they come back for more.
The opportunity to build communities and help shape our culture through our food is thrilling to me and, I’m sure, to my fellow local food hawkers.
Owen is an owner and baker at Prairie Mill Bread Co. Edmonton. He sells his bread through local grocery stores and farmers markets and sits on the Board of Directors for the City Market. Visit him at the bakery (14253-23 Ave), at City Market, Salisbury Farmers Market, and South West Edmonton Farmers Market or tweet him @PrairieMill.
NextGen Speaks Out, our guest blogging series, is envisioned as a hub for information and discussion. NextGen is a non-political, non-denominational organization focused on giving all nextgeners a voice. NextGen does not represent the opinions expressed by the individual columnists.