MILLHEIM, PA – A new online resource, Good Food Neighborhood (found at www.buylocalpa.org), is making it easier for Pennsylvanians to make thoughtful food choices by linking together local farms, food and people. Consumers hear more and more each day about the nutritional, environmental, economic and social benefits of eating local food that is produced in a responsible manner. But in this age of information overload, what consumers want most is exactly what the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) can offer: practical advice on finding the best foods available in their region.
“The general public today is more aware of food quality issues than ever before, and they are yearning to reconnect in a meaningful way with the sources of their nourishment,” explained Brian Snyder, PASA’s Executive Director. “We intend to help satisfy that desire here in Pennsylvania, and in so doing, keep our farmers on the land, doing what they do better than any in the world . . . provide good food for their neighbors.”
A new web-based initiative of statewide Buy Fresh Buy Local ® program, Good Food Neighborhood delivers membership benefits for those whose main role in the food system is shopping, cooking and eating.
“Over the past 16 years, PASA has built a community of farmers who help each other to make better choices in their farming operations,” added Chris Fullerton, PASA’s Director of Consumer Outreach. “With Good Food Neighborhood, we hope to do something similar for consumers, by giving them tools to make finding and choosing local foods easier, both individually and in cooperation with their neighbors.”
For an annual contribution of $30 members receive:
Personalized seasonal product updates from local food providers on buylocalpa.org
A subscription to Eaters Digest, an e-newsletter on good food news in Pennsylvania (and beyond)
Occasional offers or other rewards from local food businesses
An online social networking site called Community Table, where neighbors can connect around local food shopping, cooking and learning
Discounts at the buylocalpa.org online store
The updated version of buylocalpa.org, PASA’s online home for the Pennsylvania Buy Fresh Buy Local ® program, “went live” just after Labor Day, with a brand new design and many new features. Many of the improvements on the site give producers and sellers of local food new tools for reaching potential customers:
What’s In Season Now? That’s a big question for consumers. If someone goes looking for local sweet corn in February, that shopper should be able to find out that they’re a little late! Farmers with a profile on the site can create a list of all their products at the beginning of the season with general start and end dates of availability. Software that runs the site takes a look at that list each week and automatically adds and removes products that should be in or out of season. Of course, there is the ability to override the system just in case a strawberry crop fails or the first frost comes later than expected.
Mapped Locations: If a farm with a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program is located 50 miles outside of the city, but it has 15 drop points within the city, potential members will now be able to locate all the drop-off points rather than just the actual farm location.
Trading Partners: Farms, restaurants, stores, markets and even consumers can map out their food-shed by creating links on their profiles to the businesses they work with (as long as these other businesses are also listed on the site). For example, a consumer visiting a restaurant profile can see that it buys from a certain farm, learn that this farm sells at three local markets and two stores, and then find out that one of these stores acts as a drop point for a CSA and is holding a tasting event soon.
The introduction of Google mapping technology to the site now makes it easier for consumers to search for (and find) all kinds of local food providers by entering just a zip code (which results in an interactive map showing all their local food options). A Glossary of food terms was added to help shoppers understand the choices they face in the marketplace, as well as a Community Cookbook and even a Blog.
Consumers who fill out a simple registration form on the site can add their own comments to online business profiles (e.g. “don’t miss the blueberries – they’re to die for!”), upload recipes (e.g. “Uncle George’s Corn Fritters”), register for some local events, and even craft their own online profile, linking directly to their favorite local food providers and telling the world why they love local food.
The first 100 neighbors to join the Good Food Neighborhood will receive a Buy Fresh Buy Local® cap or t-shirt.
The Good Food Neighborhood makes it easier for Pennsylvania consumers to find, choose and appreciate great locally-grown foods and support the farmers and lands that produce them. Visit www.buylocalpa.org — it’s a delicious new day in the neighborhood!
PASA is the only statewide, member-based, sustainable farming organization in Pennsylvania and is one of the largest in the nation. Through its history, regular membership in the organization has grown steadily, reaching approximately 1,000 at the ten-year point, and almost 5,000 by the 16th anniversary earlier this year. Consistently, about two-thirds of PASA members are farmers.