The information I was uncovering wasn’t all depressing though. I quickly saw that I was far from the first or only person to be concerned over what was happening in the food system. Looking at food trends over the past 20 years, it’s evident that consumers are no longer satisfied with the status quo and are looking for alternatives to the current food system. Organic food sales have been trending aggressively upward since the early 2000’s, mirrored closely by the increase in the number of farmers’ markets, consumer supported agriculture (CSAs), and food hubs, all of which provide consumers the opportunity to purchase locally-produced food.
These consumer preferences put an emphasis not only on high-quality food products, but also on the livelihood of those responsible for producing them. As these distribution channels and the demand for local food grows, farming has become a viable and attractive option for a career. Smaller, specialty farms that are biologically diverse have been increasing in number, as has their productivity and revenue. In the research I conducted, I found that the average farm revenue was $49,000, which $17,214 more than the national average income of $31,786.
Average national income
Average smallholder farm income
But, even with all of this growth and positive momentum, there is still a disconnect within the movement as a whole. For the vast majority of consumers this is driven largely by lack of access and convenience, which significantly hinders involvement from the masses. For farmers, this lack of unification makes it more difficult to manage sales and customer relations. This fragmentation of the local food system coupled with the issues I had learned about in our current one is what started the idea of creating a platform to help build a more sustainable food system. People need a way to easily find and obtain healthy, fresh food in a simple way and farmers need the ability to manage sales and customer relations more efficiently. If we can remove these barriers, we will be able to recognize the full potential of a more sustainable food system and provide the unification required for it to scale.
Our goal at Know isn’t to solve all the problems facing our current food system in one fell swoop, but instead to begin by fostering the most basic relationship in the system: that between farmer and consumer. By bringing these two parties together, we seek to empower individuals to make the decisions they deem important when it comes to their food. Establishing this fundamental relationship will lay the groundwork for the continued growth of a more sustainable food system required for a prosperous future.
KNOW is a marketplace platform that seeks to foster relationships between farmers and consumers, while bolstering the revitalization of our food systems. We believe that a platform such as this will increase the access to and efficiency of a more sustainable food system, all the while providing the foundation needed for it to scale.