Portland, Ore. – The team behind FoodHub (www.food-hub.org), the website that helps local food buyers and sellers connect, has just released Local Food/Tech Landscape, an interactive guide to innovation at the intersection of local food and technology.
As Amanda Oborne, FoodHub’s director put it, “There has been an incredible proliferation of start-ups and innovators in the food and technology space, all working to create an alternative, regionally-based food system in this country. I believe the opportunities for collaboration among those innovators are limitless. The first step in making those connections is understanding the space and the players. We created this model to get some clarity ourselves, and then realized others might find it useful, too.”
Local Food/Tech Landscape is an interactive infographic that categorizes local food/technology innovations by their role in a new alternative food system – farming, aggregating, distributing, finding and buying. There is also a resources section, which highlights the ecosystem of service providers offering both support to innovators and help in advancing the food movement directly.
To be included in the infographic, innovations must have 1) technology integral to their model (just having a snappy website isn’t enough); 2) some minimum criteria or stated focus on local, sustainable or regional food and; 3) be available nationally, or being piloted regionally with an intention to scale up.
Oborne explains that the infographic takes a tip from mainstream eaters and uses the word “local” as a catch-all for local, regional, sustainable, socially responsible, humane, clean, “good” or any relevant combination of specific claims related to production methods. “We understand that ‘local’ is being used as short hand for all of these different ideas — it’s not just about mileage.”
The designer and developer of the Local Food/Tech Landscape is Will Moore, FoodHub’s lead developer. “This was an exciting project to work on because it’s right on the leading edge of this new industry,” Moore said. “Understanding this landscape has the potential to catalyze some very fruitful collaborations.”
Astrid Scholz, executive vice president of Ecotrust, the nonprofit organization that conceived of and operates FoodHub, said the infographic project flows from Ecotrust’s efforts to deploy technology for social good. “The local food and technology space is advancing the food movement around the country, and we will continue to facilitate that change as best we can.”
The team readily acknowledges that with new innovations in the local food/technology sector being launched rapid fire, it will take some work to keep the data in the guide updated. There is a comment form on the graphic where suggestions for additional innovations can be submitted.
Launched in 2010, FoodHub is a project of Ecotrust. The tool was developed with private foundation, nonprofit and government resources, and intended for broad use throughout the food and agricultural communities. Now in its second year, FoodHub has invited more than 3,600 farmers, ranchers, dairies, fishermen, restaurants, schools, hospitals, and chefs to connect with each other and create a more robust regional food economy. www.food-hub.org.
Ecotrust’s mission is to foster a natural model of development that creates more resilient communities, economies and ecosystems here and around the world. Over more than 20 years, Ecotrust has converted $80 million in grants into more than $500 million in capital for local people, businesses, and organizations from Alaska to California. Ecotrust’s many innovations include co-founding the world’s first environmental bank, starting the world’s first ecosystem investment fund, creating a range of programs in fisheries, forestry, food, farms and indigenous affairs, and developing new scientific and information tools to improve social, economic and environmental decision making. Ecotrust works locally in ways that promise hope abroad, and it takes inspiration from the wisdom of Native and First Nation leadership. Learn more at www.ecotrust.org