Locavores in cyberspace

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

FarmieMarket is state-of-the-art access to natural food, improving the interface between consumers and farmers, via the Internet. Sarah Gordon, who grew up on a farm with grass-fed cattle, launched it two years ago in the Capital Region, and just last week branches began in Ulster and Dutchess Counties. Witness its evolution:

Once upon a time there was a little farmstand – an unobtrusive, ramshackle structure by the side of the road. If you didn’t know it was there, you might pass it at 50 miles per hour on your way somewhere more important. If you did stop, you’d see that it was manned only by a small tin box to put your money in. You might notice that the selection was limited, and some items were overgrown. You probably didn’t know how it was grown, but it may well have been with the help of chemicals to feed or de-pest it. But the price was right, and you knew it was very, very local – from the backyard or across the road – and definitely in season.

Arriving more recently was the organic section of the supermarket: a little pricey, and who knows how far the food had traveled? Sometimes it looked a little weary; but at least you knew that your bananas or your broccoli were free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and probably not irradiated or genetically modified.

Then farmers’ markets started to pop up like mushrooms in cities and villages. Now you could meet the farmer who grew or raised your food face-to-face, and you knew that, while not quite from across the street, the food hadn’t traveled very far. Although not always certified organically grown, it was in most cases cultivated with care and a minimum of chemical intervention.

The same was true of Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, an exciting way to buy food that began a few years back. If you signed up for a CSA share, on a given day and time every week or two, you went to the farm that grew or raised your food and you picked up your share, in a box or bags: a specified amount of whatever was abundant and in season. I was a member of a CSA for a few years, and what I loved about it was sharing in the upkeep (via the annual fee) and sharing in the bounty of a small farm, visiting the farm itself and chatting with the farmers. Not least was the excitement of figuring out what to do with something that I might not have bought otherwise – say, Japanese turnips or four bunches of kale. What ultimately led to my stopping my membership was that the day and time of pickup – a window of a few hours on Tuesday afternoon – was during a timeframe when I was unable to make the 15-mile drive to the farm.

Here comes FarmieMarket, the latest way to get good food to cook. You have your fresh (most produce is picked day-of or day-before); you have your local (nearby independent farmers); you have your sustainably produced meats, produce, dairy products, honeys and syrups and more. “Right now people seem to be the most excited about the pastured eggs from Old Ford Farm!” says Magen Markham, FarmieMarket’s independent coordinator for Ulster County. All products available are 100 percent free of pesticides, hormones or antibiotics, and of course, Genetically Modified Organism-free.

But for some, what may be best of all is that you don’t have to figure out when to fit the shopping trip into your busy schedule. You just look at pretty photos online on an easy-to-navigate website, add the most appealing items to your basket, pay with a click of the mouse and it’s delivered to home or work.

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