Food to Fork: What's Really Going On
As all travelers and busy people (essentially all of us) know, eating without access to a home or kitchen makes feeding our bodies in a healthy way nearly impossible, and at the very least expensive.
Why should we sacrifice our own health in order to fit within the bounds of the conventional food industry? This question led not only to the creation of UGo, but now to a much bigger endeavor, called Everyday Adventure Treats, which takes a broader look at our food system as a whole, and how each and every one of us can improve it every day.
When I began sourcing for UGo bars, I was shocked at the impersonal model of distribution. My turning point to do something about this came one year ago, when our corporate distributor simply did not show up with our order. This meant our production for an entire week needed to close down, 5 people’s careers depending on these hours, as well as retail demand waiting for us to deliver.
Distributors notoriously do not answer the phone, doors to facilities often locked. They know there are no other options for small businesses, in essence a monopoly. When I sent Ricky driving an hour north to have a discussion about our missing products, he was required to call a line down to the Florida offices so that someone could let him through the door in front of him in Indiana.
I threatened to take my business elsewhere, but the exact same thing happened to me with the competitors. Dozens of semi-truck lined up under gray skies around an ominous warehouse, with not a soul in sight. This in a nutshell is the impersonality of our food industry today.
This is the type of system that supplies our restaurants, grocery stores, convenience marts, essentially every food industry that does not claim “Farm-to-Table.” There is no person-person contact, no regard for small-enterprise, small-farmers, and certainly no accountability. Once food is grown by a farm (often subsidized, often Monsanto), it is sent to warehouse after warehouse, with every distributor creating a new price markup to shelve the product.
Walnut Fresh From The Tree, Annabelle Marcovici
At the end of the day, the consumer is paying a premium for ingredients to sit in warehouses, for food to be wasted, and to degrade in quality all the while. The connection to the source of our food has become utterly lost, and no one is taking responsibility.
"Getting food from the farm to our fork eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land, and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten," according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
That is where we come in. This change will happen from the bottom up, not the top down.
Photo by Aubrey Dunnuck
There is a very simple way to provide millions of jobs, a living wage, turn around our environmental crises, and simply feel better!
I’d like to credit Matthew Feltrop of the Patachou Foundation for putting this massive dilemma into one simple sentence.
The solution begins with one simple decision to respect the Food Industry.
If we continued to demand sustainably sourced, locally grown, pesticide-free products, this would greatly enhance our economy, open more jobs, and protect the health of our farmers. The great news is that small-farming is quickly regaining traction as an employable field, and farmers’ markets and “Farm-to-Table” restaurants are becoming more wide-spread and affordable. It’s very important to note, and one of our core missions to show that organic food can and should be affordable. By changing the model of distribution, small-farmers will make a living wage to sell to the end consumer. Instead of paying for storage time and semi-truck transportation from warehouse to warehouse, our dollar should be going to more direct sourcing.
Through Everyday Adventure Treats, we have begun sourcing the best quality ingredients, as directly as we know how. And since we are already sourcing these ingredients, we figured, why not offer them to you in bulk as well. With us, you know you are going to be able to afford fresh, organic ingredients for less than many places sell overly-preserved, genetically modified foods.
We are currently in the process of creating more local small-farm partnerships, and even conceptualizing an "Indiana" snack bar, using only what can be sourced from our home-state. Not only do we intend to provide direct access to consumers, but also to supply conscious restauranteurs, local markets, and coops. There is a demand, and we are stepping up to the plate to create these pathways.
We are able to do this because we have spent the time to consciously consider the problem instead of riding the wave of conventional blindness. All we ask is that we all simply pay attention.
Through your choices everyday, YOU are able support the economy, the environment, and your body in a way the is affordable and sustainable.
With good cheer and optimism always,
(Founder / Owner)
*A special note of thanks to the pioneering companies who have inspired us, and have shined light on the positive movement in todays industry:
-Tiny Footprint- for prioritizing local, and taking good care of our short shelf-life product.
-Bloomingfoods Coop- for leading the way in sourcing local, and being our favorite grocery!
-Patachou Foundation- for upholding utmost value from seed-to-plate-to-education, and leading the way with a sustainable model of real change.
-Feeding Tomorrow- for giving voice to the question "What's the best we can we do with what we have?"
-Equal Exchange- for exemplifying the power of democratic cooperation to solve problems at the grassroots level.