Food Tech Startup Trend Takes Hold in Michigan

7/20/12Follow @XconomyDET

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restaurants that serve local food. “You enter in a ZIP code and you can explore the farms in your area, whether it’s to find stuff at a farmers market or to see sourcing at a local restaurant.” Farmers and eateries can include pictures, stories, and information about their growing practices in their online profiles. So far, Real Time Farms’ users have added more than 3,200 farms and 6,900 farmers markets across the nation.

Thanks to her Food Warrior internship program, Rosean sends groups out to different areas of the country and gives them 12 weeks to try to document the local food network. Every three months, she chooses five new cities. So far, more than 20 cities have been documented. She calls the East Coast “awesome,” and says one surprise was how much more robust the local food scene was in Los Angeles compared to the Bay Area. Michigan is also well-represented, and Rosean says she’s looking forward to going into areas, like Hawaii, that often don’t have as much access to the national supply chain.

But there’s another, equally important benefit to the local food movement besides health: what it’s doing to prop up small businesses. In Michigan, more than 90 percent of the state’s farmland is owned by families or individuals, and the numbers are growing. According to data from the 2007 USDA Census of Agriculture, 3,000 new farms were added in Michigan since the last numbers were tallied. In Detroit and other American city centers, urban farming is also enjoying a renaissance. “It strengthens local economies,” Block explains. “It’s not just a foodie thing—it’s really about economic development.”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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  • http://twitter.com/ErikaBlock Erika Block

    Thanks for the great article, Sarah. I wanted to clarify a number: we’re talking about $8B in current *annual sales* – and growing! Increasing the amount of food that’s sourced locally is one of the great opportunities of the new economy.