Chow Locally: Connecting farms to Valley tables
In recent years, cities across the nation have seen farmers markets emerging in greater numbers, offering communities the opportunity to purchase locally grown food.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are approximately 7,175 farmers markets operating throughout the nation as of mid-2011. This marks a 17 percent increase from 2010. With this trend growing, Phoenix-based Chow Locally offers the Valley a new twist to conventional markets.
Chow Locally is an online marketplace that has developed relationships with farmers around the Phoenix area to conveniently sell food to area residents. The Internet-based business was co-founded by School of Nutrition and Health Promotion assistant professor Christopher Wharton, Derek Slife and Annie Cowan. With a click of a mouse button, participating farmers can sell and shoppers can purchase a variety of items such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, meats, honey and flowers.
Each Sunday, farmers add items ready for harvest to Chow Locally’s website. From Monday through Thursday shoppers can choose which items to purchase, which farm to purchase from, and pay online. Ordering closes on Friday and farmers are then sent the list of purchased foods. Orders are delivered and available for pick up on Saturday morning at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market at 14 East Pierce Street in Phoenix. While only one location for pick up is currently available, Chow Locally hopes to add more locations in the future.
The benefits of buying local are many. Consumers can support area farms, the local economy, and gain access to healthier foods. One day delivery also means a smaller environmental impact by reducing the amount of travel for food.
"Farmers now have a system that allows them to harvest exactly what is needed to fill orders," Wharton said. "They can also avoid the waste that comes along with bringing lots of produce to a market and not knowing how much might get sold.”
Contributed by Laurie Trowbridge.