Lexicon of Sustainability

Watchword: Local Processing

To draw attention to the best and brightest ideas in sustainability, the Lexicon of Sustainability's Food List project defines the words that are integral to a healthy, transparent, and accountable food system. Each week, we explore a new word through artwork, films, recipes, and written works. See all Food List words here. 

Local Processing: The first casualty in the centralization of any food system is local processing. Local dairies left without bottling plants. Poultry producers forced to travel several hours to the nearest slaughterhouse. Wheat growers first losing seed-cleaning operations, then grain mills. Rebuilding local production capacity means nothing when there’s no way to process things after they’ve grown. Stories like these repeat across the country, but there is a new hope emerging.

In Eugene, Oregon, Hummingbird Wholesalers, co-owners Julie and Charlie Tilt support local farmers by providing distribution of their organic crops. They’re micro-distributors.

Amanda Oborne, too, knows the about power of regional food hubs and the key role they’ll play in fixing America’s food system. The company where she works,EcoTrust, has helped farmers find new markets.

Back in Eugene, Brian Keogh of Organically Grown Company knows about the power of cooperative distribution. As lead purchaser, he connects growers to consumers.

These folks are all about relocalization. The work they do for their community happens within their community. Naturally.

Title: Cooperative Distribution
Location: Organically Grown Company, Eugene, OR
Featuring: Brian Keogh, Purchasing at Organically Grown Company

Cooperative distribution unites supply and distribution systems, enabling farms to thrive by allowing them to focus on growing quality produce instead of the selling, marketing and delivery of their product.

“By the time most food reaches the end-consumer they have very little awareness of its growing conditions or environmental impact, or even who the farmer is,” says Brian Keogh of Organically Grown Company. Organically Grown Company is owned by both the farmer and employees. Prosperity is shared among all stakeholders to create an even distribution of wealth, helping the both distributor and farmer share in the profits of a successful business. Their truck reads “42 Organic Farms, 1 Organic brand”.

Food Hub helps farmers find new markets

Like an online dating site for the local food trade, FoodHub is an online platform that connects farmers, ranchers, fishermen and specialty producers with wholesale food buyers in their region.

A community of more than 5,000 located in states across the West, wholesale food buyers and sellers of all kinds from restaurants to schools, fishermen to ranchers, have searched FoodHub to find beneficial business connections.

Short film: "A Pasta Story" by The Perennial Plate

Italy is known for its pasta, but despite its rich heritage, most flour in this country is homogenous and white, thanks to the ever present push towards cheaper product with larger yields. Luckily, in the hills of Tuscany, the filmmakers stumbled upon Franco Pedrini who, along with his sons, grows heirloom grains through biodynamic farming to create a pasta that is delicious and nutritious, and even the gluten-free can often stomach. They do it for the love of their local produce.

Recipe: Roasted Lemon Herb Chicken by Chef Ann Cooper

Celebrate the community of your regional food hub by using as many local ingredients as possible in this comforting fall recipe from Chef Ann Cooper.  

How big of a role does local sourcing (and processing) play in your food choices? Does your community have a regional food hub? Tell us in the comments below, and follow us for more on local processing throughout the week.

For the past three years, the Lexicon of Sustainability has sought out the foremost practitioners of sustainability in food and farming to gain their insights and experiences on this important subject. What began as a photography project to spread their knowledge has grown to include short films, study guides, traveling shows, a book, and a website where people can add their own terms to this ever-evolving lexicon. See more at www.lexiconofsustainability.com.

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