America’s farm-to-table food movement and the ever-growing emphasis on local food are good news for both the environment and our economy. From haute cuisine to small food businesses, owners are increasingly sourcing local, seasonal, and sustainable products. These ingredients that make for fresher, tastier dishes not support the local economy and promote sustainability, but they cater to a growing audience of conscientious consumers and offer array of marketing opportunities.This movement towards fresh and local produce, however, lacks focus in one very important area, one that will determine the future of local food and American agriculture: affordability and accessibility.
With the growth of these aggregator models, we are reaching a tipping point. Now that there are more than 400 food hubs around the country, we have the beginnings of the physical infrastructure needed to support a new, alternative supply chain that sources exclusively from regional, sustainable producers with technology-enabled transparency every step of the way – once again putting a face and a voice to our food. As food ports scale, the next generation is emerging: food ports. These aggregate the smaller regional hubs and include processing, production, and distribution functions so that good, small, and mid-scale food can finally make its way into the institutional and large wholesale supply chains.