Roaring Brook Market
In Lancaster County, there is a feel of a tight knit community. A feeling of togetherness and respect. Knowledgeable folks with the passion, drive, and willingness to buy into the greater cause. People who look after one another, who think about the best interest of the community. Some of these people are local products, serving local products, for local people. They are the owners of the newest, local market in Lancaster, Roaring Brook Market. Located in the historic East Side merchant Row on East King Street in downtown Lancaster, Roaring Brook Market was recently opened in August of 2013. They offer a variety of grocery products, and a café setting to enjoy freshly prepared meals, with all organic and local products. Local people, serving local products.
The market was found by a group of four visionaries: Sarah McGahran, Trex Proffitt, Rachel Cooke, and Drew Nowacoski. Sarah is a local graduate of Franklin and Marshall College with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Environmental Studies. She spent an entire year on a case study about the uniqueness of Lancaster County's local food system. Trex Proffitt, a business and entrepreneurship professor, is the bank behind the operation. Rachel Cooke, also a Franklin and Marshall grad, received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. Her specialty is plant based cooking and after four year in the restaurant business, she is looking to spread her recipes into Lancaster's everyday diets. Lastly we have Drew Nowacoski, a graduate of the Penn College of Art and Design. He was worked with multiple food-based clients in the greater Lancaster area including Expressly Local, Eastern Market, Sweet Annie Produce and Lancaster Food Day.
With this group of four, they have created what Sarah calls a "communal space" for people of the greater Lancaster area to come enjoy locally grown and produced food. When I asked them what their goals of the store were, they told me they "wanted to raise awareness of where people's food was coming from, and to be able to provide a fresh assortment of plants, meat, and dairy products for the people of Lancaster to incorporate into their diets."
As I stated earlier, Roaring Brook Market is located in the historic East Side Improvement District and Eastern Market District. The idea behind this improvement district is to create a stable and safe environment for it residents. Their mission statement reflects this stating that they wish, "to enhance our community in the Historic East Side so that our neighborhood is an even greater place to live, work and invest." They also have a vision statement, or a set of goals for the development moving forward. "Develop a long-term, sustainable community based organization that":
- "Engages stakeholders, mobilizes resources and coordinates community efforts in making the Historic East Side an even greater place to live, work and invest."
- "Recapture and reinforce a sense of community pride among the residents and stakeholders in the East King Street and surrounding neighborhoods."
- "Serve as a resource and referral center to build the capacity of the community stakeholders."
This type of message is reflected in the work and goals of Roaring Brook. Looks like they picked the right place to start a business. The district also has some of there own local vendors including: Blue Rock Farm, Green Moon Farm, Ornery Ladybug Farm, Farm Fromage Artisan Cheeses, and Slow Rise Bakery. All are local, organic companies who share the view and goals of the East King Improvement District, creating a network of local food systems for Roaring Brook to take advantage of.
Another partner that Roaring Brook Market has worked with is Slow Food USA. Slow Food USA is a member of a global network that includes over 150,000 companies in over 150 countries. Slow Food links "pleasures of the table with a commitment to protect the community, culture, knowledge and environment that make this pleasure possible." Their mission includes four parts: Good, Clean, Fair, For All.
Good - "Our food should be tasty, seasonal, local, fresh and wholesome."
Clean – "Our food should nourish a healthful lifestyle and be produced in ways that preserve biodiversity, sustain the environment and ensure animal welfare – without harming human health."
Fair – "Our food should be affordable by all, while respecting the dignity of labor from field to fork."
For All – "Good, clean and fair food should be accessible to all and celebrate the diverse cultures, traditions and nations that reside in the USA."
Slow Food has 140 local chapters across the United States and 40 campus chapters at Colleges and Universities from coast to coast. Working together with all of these various chapters they set out to do three things. Care, Cultivate, and Connect.
Care- "We preserve and share local foods and food cultures. We defend and advocate policies that promote holistic alternatives to the industrial system. Through tastings, workshops and social opportunities, we explore and celebrate the Slow life."
Cultivate- "We develop leaders in communities who model joy and justice. We champion local, culturally significant heritage foods, customs and recipes – and bring these experiences into farms, markets, restaurants and homes. We teach the next generation how to grow, prepare and share food responsibly."
Connect- "Conviviality is central to our mission. We are a global community, connecting people to the land and to each other through local projects, educational events, and shared meals. We become catalysts for change by sharing the joy of Slow Food and prioritizing wholesome living over convenience."
Our local Slow Food Chapter is located just thirty minutes away in York, Pennsylvania and is labeled the Susquehanna Heartland Convivum. Slow Foods also encourages people to donate, join the army of volunteers, or try to "Go Slow" in your own life. Some of their suggestions include: Buying whole ingredients, avoid processed items, start a garden so you can grow and eat your own natural ingredients, when it comes to meat and poultry choose grass fed or free range, and most importantly find out the story behind the food you consume.
If you want to "Go Slow" within your own community, Slow Food suggests things like having a cookout, joining a community garden, "Shaking the hands the feed you" by meeting the farmers that dedicate their time producing your food, shop at farmers market and educate yourself on local and regional food items and dishes. This happens to be the same message Sarah McGahran gave us in the multimedia portion. Know not only what you are eating, but take the time to invest in where it came from. Take the time to educate yourself, your family and friends, and people in your community.
Roaring Brook Market personally works with a variety of partners, some of them include Little Barn Noodles, Daisy Flour, The Christina Maser and Tandi's Naturals, and Dynamite Pickles, The Original Pennsylvania Pickle Company.
Little Barn Noodles is a company based in Honey Brook, Pennsylvania. They provide homemade noodles made with eggs from cage-free hens. They also have no salt, color, or added preservatives. They also offer fresh Jams and Spreads made from local products.
Daisy Flour is located here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They produce an all-purpose, organic flour that is good to use in any type of dish.
Christina Maser's Pantry is a company that makes natural soy wax candles, bath and body products, and pantry items like fresh jams, dressings, and salsas.
Dynamite Pickles is a local company that strives to produce the world's best dill pickles and pickle flavors. They also offer organic sauces and marinades.
The genius behind the market is their sustainability. Sustainability is based on a single thesis: "Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment." Sustainability creates the conditions where humans and nature can both be productive, and that allow the fulfillment of the other requirements for our generation and others to come. Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and continue to have all the materials and resources to protect our race and the environment we live in. Robert Solow (1991) says, "The notion of sustainability is about our obligation to the future. It says something about a moral obligation that we are supposed to have for future generations. I think it is very important to keep in mind that you cannot be morally obligated to do something that is not feasible. Sustainability is an injunction not to satisfy ourselves by impoverishing our successors. Fullen (2004) highlights eight elements of sustainability:
1. Public service with a moral purpose: Must transcend the individual to become an organization and system quality in which collectives were committed to pursuing moral purpose in all of their core activities (Fullan, 2003).
2. Commitment to changing context at all levels: "Changing whole systems means changing the entire context within which people work."
3. Lateral capacity-building through networks: "greater accountability leading to the realization that support or capacity building was essential; which led to vertical capacity-building with external trainers at the district or other levels; and then in turn to the that lateral capacity-building across peers was a powerful learning strategy."
4. New vertical relationships that are co-dependent encompassing both capacity- building and accountability: "Sustainable societies must solve the perennial change problem of how to get both local ownership (including capacity) and external accountability, and to get this in the entire system."
5. Deep learning: Adaptive work "demands learning," "demands experimentation," and "difficult conversations." "Species evolve whereas cultures learn" (Heifez, 2003).
6. Dual commitment to short-term and long-term results: "Like most aspects of sustainability, things that look like they are mutually exclusive have to be brought together. It's a pipedream to argue only for the long-term goal of organizations or society, because the shareholders and the public won't let you get away with it."
7. Cyclical energizing: "The set of strategies that brought initial success are not the ones — not powerful enough — to take us to higher levels."
8. The long lever of leadership: "If a system is to be mobilized in the direction of sustainability, leadership at all levels must be the primary engine."
The main sticking point of the store is local foods. Lancaster County has a large initiative group focused on local products. Lancaster County "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" has many participants across the county including 16 farmers markets, 55 farms, 20 restaurants/caterers, 14 retail stores, and 4 wineries & breweries. Why put so much emphasis on local foods? What is considered 'local foods'? What does it really do?
Local food is unlike organic food in that there is no universally accepted definition for the term. Part of its definition has to do with the geographical aspect related to the physical distance between food producers and food consumers. Local food can also be defined by things like social and supply chain aspects.
The term 'local food' is used for the referral of food that is produced near its point of consumption. When it comes to defining the exact distance, there are multiple opinions on the subject. Population density is important because what is considered local in a lightly populated area
may be very different from what constitutes local in a more densely populated area. This concept is known as flexible localism. According to the 2008 Farm Act, the total distance that a product can be transported and still be considered for sale as a "locally or regionally produced agricultural food product" is less than 400 miles from where is was produced, or the State in which it is produced.
Geography is only one aspect of what people consider to be 'local foods.' The concept can extend to the people who have produced the food. Whether it is the personality and ethics of the grower, the farm and its surroundings, and anything else contributing to the story behind the food. Local food systems have usually gone hand in hand with small farms, committed to work through social and economical relationships.
Local foods can also be defined by the stages of the supply chain, like processing and retailing. A short food supply chain (SFSC) has some kind of connection between the food consumer and producer by providing a clearer signal when it comes to the origin of the food product itself.
Because there is no specific, universally accepted definition of local foods, defining types of local food markets allows us to evaluate these markets. The two major types of local food markets are those where the transactions are occurring directly between farmers and consumers (direct-to-consumer), and those where direct sales by farmers to restaurants, retail stores, and institutions such as government entities, hospitals, and schools (direct-to-retail/foodservice).
Direct-to-consumer sales of agricultural products make up a small, but quickly growing part of U.S. agriculture, increasing by $399 million (49 percent) from 2002 to 2007, and by $660 million (120 percent) from 1997 to 2007. According to the 2007 Census, 136,800 farms, or 6 percent
of all farms in the United States, sold $1.2 billion worth of farm products directly to consumers, or 0.4 percent of all agricultural sales. Direct-to-consumer marketing is also a slim share of U.S. home food consumption. In 2007, direct-to- consumer sales grew to 0.21 percent of total home consumption, compared to 0.15 percent in 1997. Nationally, direct-to-consumer sales per farm averaged $8,853 (Soto and Diamond, 2009).
Other types of direct-to-consumer marketing are pick-your own, community gardening, farm stands, and on-farm stores. Pick-your-own (PYO), or U-pick, operations became popular in the 1930s and 1940s, during the Great Depression and after WWII, when produce prices were down and producers could not account for labor and material costs.
Most local food is not being given direct-to-consumer, though. According to research firm Packaged Facts; local food sales through all marketing channels in the United States were $5 billion in 2007, compared to $1.2 billion in direct-to- consumer sales.
So why do we buy these local foods? Recent data shows that even though local food consumers are diverse across the board, they are very similar when it comes to their motivations for purchasing local products. The majority of responders to a nation wide study said that freshness (82 percent), support for the local economy (75 percent), and knowing the source of the product (58 percent) as reasons for buying local food at direct markets or in conventional grocery stores (Food Marketing Institute, 2009). Consumers who enjoy cooking, growing a food garden, visiting health food stores, and purchasing organic food were more likely to buy local food. On the other hand, environmental and health-related attitudes were not important factors affecting actual food purchases (Zepeda and Li, 2006).
Local foods may be more difficult for some people to find than your everyday food due to seasonal issues, limited access, or a lack of awareness of farmers' markets accessibility. The small amount of product choice and the amount of produce provided, as well as transportation and inconvenience of pickup place or time, has been found to deter customers (Darby et al., 2008). Specific income doesn't seem to play a role in the choice of where to buy these products, contrary to popular belief.
Pennsylvania is one of 10 states in North America that was estimated willing to pay additional premiums for local food items. These products include but are not limited to produce (strawberries, salad greens, potatoes), animal products (pork and beef), and value-added products (applesauce, blueberry products, salsa, syrup).
According to Darby et al., (2008), consumers will associate multiple attributes with the "local" products, these include being fresh, supporting the community, supporting local, small farms, and helping to sustain the environment.
There are government programs and policies that address local food production and support local product purchases. These programs and policies can act as a stimulator for growth of local foods and markets. Back in 1994, the DoD started a project to allow their food services to extend to local institutions like schools and hospitals. In 1996, the "Fresh Program," joined forces with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to secure produce for these institutions that was produced within state lines (Kantor, 2001). By August of 1998, this program was instilled in 38 states across the country. In 1999, the Department of Agriculture had presented and set in motion the Community Food Security Initiative. This cross-country plan sought out to establish partnership between the USDA and communities nationwide to construct local food systems, increase food access, and improve general nutrition (Starr et al., 2003).
The United States Department of Agriculture's marketing department provides multiple grant programs in support of local food initiatives from coast to coast. Matching the USDA's efforts, the Federal State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP) contributes equal funds to State agencies in an effort to assist in the exploration of new market opportunities for food and agricultural products, and also to nudge the researchers to improve the output and overall performance of the food marketing system (Hamilton, 2005). Back in 2009, 8 of the 23 grants that were awarded were put towards projects that are supporting local foods.
The turning point in the government's recognition and support of local food production came with the 2008 Farm Act. Formally known as the 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act, it is actively the primary Federal policy that supports local and regional systems. One of the provisions in the act involves funds under the Business and Industry Guarantee Loan Program that go towards the aid of rural food enterprise and local food distribution.
As Sarah said in her interview with Project Green Lancaster, they are working with some of the farmers for the first time in the local food business. They are dong their part to let people know where their food is being grown and produced. In 2009, the USDA took a step in that same direction. Launching the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative, they created an agency wide program to discover new economic opportunities by connecting consumers directly with their local producers. Included in this initiative, several funding efforts and programs were created to assist the farmers, to help consumer's access nutritious, local foods, and support rural community development (Ragland and Tropp, 2009).
While the Government on a national level has done some work to improve the in's and out's of the local food initiative, most rules and regulations that have a direct impact on local food systems take place at the State and Local levels. When it comes to the State level, there are many policies that help create the atmosphere in which farmers can operate.
Now that we see the reasons and regulations for local foods, lets move on to the benefits of these local products. What affects to they have on our community? Our nutrition and overall health? The expansion of public programs that are in support of local food initiatives show that the interest in these local foods goes far and beyond just motivated customers and willing producers. All of the programs that were addressed devote a multitude of resources in support of the local foods. The reason? The growth of local foods has been estimated to generate benefits for the general public in areas that right now, are severely lacking. There are four main areas that we will address where the impact of local food has the potential to overcome and surpass the mainstream food systems. These areas include, economic development, health and nutrition benefits, impacts on food security, and affects on energy use and greenhouse gas emissions (Canning et al., 2010). It should also be pointed out that these same local food systems have the ability to create other public benefits. Peters et al. (2008) states that local food systems could posses the power to reduce food safety risks by decentralizing production. A few other benefits depending on location include developing social capital in communities and environmental equality (Goland and Bauer, 2004).
First, we will address local foods impact on economic development. Expansion of local foods in a specific area would imply that buyers in that area are purchasing more items from the available, nearby sources, and that the capital that is changing hands is staying within the local community. Thus, these local food systems have created the potential to make a positive impact on the local economy. Ikerd (2005) suggests that expansion of local foods may be a smart and realistic development strategy for some rural areas. One of the most precise ways that local food expansion could make an economical impact is import substitution. Basically, when people opt to purchase food that is produced inside the local area versus the imports from somewhere else, those sales accumulate to the people and businesses in the local area (Swenson, 2010). While import substitution has the potential to be a major asset, the size of its economic impact depends on input sources for the local production and processing (basically whether the money used on these inputs is retained in the local area or not).
Next we can address the added health and nutrition that these local food systems bring to the conversation, bring to the community. The relationship shared between local foods and healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, has generated assertions that these local food systems may actually provide healthy benefits from improved nutrition, prevention of obesity, and a highly reduced rate of chronic diet-related disease (Vogt and Kaiser, 2008). Local foods can affect general health and nutrition in a couple of ways. First off, these local food systems can provide food items that are much fresher, acquire little to no processing, and retain a higher level of nutrients because of the short distance of travel. Buyers can purchase the same quantity and the same types of these fruits and vegetables, but because these local foods are fresher, their nutrient content is much higher and it improves the consumers diet. Secondly, local food systems can improve the availability of healthy, fresh, food items in the general community and encourage buyers to make their food choices healthier. For this to work out, a minimum of two conditions must be satisfied: Local food systems must increase the amount of healthy food items in a way that may be almost impractical for the non-local systems, and then the consumers who purchase these local foods need to make different diet decisions in their everyday life that they most likely would not have made without the choice to use the local option.
Now we move to Food Security as our next impact of local foods. Characteristics of local foods commonly have been associated with multiple efforts to improve food security, specifically at the local level. Food security means that all people have access at all times "to enough food for an active, healthy life" (Nord et al., 2009). People who are considered food insecure tend to have a limited or uncertain availability of the healthy and safe foods or have an uncertain ability to be able to acquire these foods in normal ways. In 2008, upwards of 6.8 million homes in the United States had an extremely low rate of food security (Nord et al., 2009). A huge component of the community food security programs has been direct marketing. Their goal, to reduce community food insecurity and to support the rural communities by bulking up their normal ties between the farmers and the urban customers. Some markets have associated themselves with food security programs because of the increasing ability of accepting certain benefits from Federal and State nutrition and food programs (Kantor, 2001). The ability for these local foods to actually have an affect on food security could possible be limited by multiple factors. For instance, if a market is located in a low-income area they could experience a low volume of sales. If there is no money spent in the community, their business does not have a chance to thrive.
Finally, our forth and final impact of local foods is a combination of food miles, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Now a days food is traveling more and more miles from the farmers to the consumers a food systems lean harder on long-distance transport systems and global distribution networks (Saunders and Hayes, 2007). Experts are concerned about the fossil fuel use and also greenhouse gas emissions. It has cause a cloud of scrutiny around the environmental impacts of transportation in the food system and total distance food is traveling to get to the consumers. While distance is clearly a part that goes into determining overall energy use and emissions coming from food transport, supply chains of different lengths are rarely, if ever, the same. The mode of transportation, the load size, the fuel type, and even trip frequency can all have different affects on the energy use and emissions.
So we have gone over everything there is to know about local foods. From its health and economical benefits, to the different types of retail, to Government support, it has all been presented. In saying that, let's talk about how all of this is carried out in our area, in Lancaster, Pa. Earlier Lancaster County "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" was addressed, but lets get to know this initiative and how it effects Lancaster County residents every single day.
The basic mission of "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" is to "strengthen our local food system by increasing the demand for locally- produced foods, connecting Lancaster County families, farmers markets, restaurants, and other institutions with Lancaster County farmers." They want to educate the public on local food benefits, increase access to them and increase farmer's incomes, which in turn will help boost the local economy. "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" in Lancaster County divides the county into 6 regions: Northern, Central, Western, Southern, Eastern and Lancaster City. All of the stores that are apart of "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" must be "Certified Organic". In other words that means that the producer and their products have been certified by a USDA agent and are following certain ecological standards that exclude the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers, growth hormones, and routine antibiotics in their farming and/or processing.
Local food, as you can see from the earlier sections, has had quite a large impact from the local to national level in the past few decades. There are countless volunteer opportunities, do it yourself options, and even a fair share of Government legislation to show the progress that local food has made in our country and even abroad. The work that places like Roaring Brook Market and Slow Foods USA do are second to none. They are working not only to improve our local communities, to pump vast amounts of capital into our economies, but to improve the nutrition, lifestyles, and overall health of the population. So go visit Roaring Brook, check out their website roaringbrookmarket.com, visit any market, educate yourself and do your part to improve your local community. I think you will be surprised the power that we have to make the change, and make a difference.