July 17, 2010

Those are Clover’s carrots

See the bags of carrots that guy is holding? Those are headed to Clover. I went down to Rhode Island to see how some of our food gets distributed. Distribution is an area you don’t hear about much. You hear about farmers, you hear about restaurants. But distribution, ordering, deliveries is something we deal with every day. (I think Brian could could have written an entire post on trying to make sense of the woman who mans the phones after business hours at Russo’s, but that’s another story.)

We get some of our produce, and the Narrangansett yogurt you’ve been eating in the mornings, through a pretty slick nonprofit called Farm Fresh Rhode Island. I worked with them one morning to get a huge volume of stuff from farmers to restaurants.


At 7am, farmers in trucks pulled up to this huge old candy factory outside Providence. We hauled and sorted thousands of dollars of rhubarb, strawberries, potatoes, eggs, and packed it up into trucks headed out to restaurants in Rhode Island and Boston. We held produce headed to the fanciest restaurants in Providence, but also to the Blue Cross Blue Shield cafeteria, Clover, and McCormick and Schmicks.

I got to talking with a couple of the women in charge. They wanted an easy way for chefs to get local food (not farmer’s markets or CSAs). Midnight on Mondays they post up a listing of what farmers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have available. You log on, search by farm, and select quantities of what you want. On Thursday they deliver. It’s a non-profit so they’re not taking a huge cut from farmers, like a lot of the big distribution companies do, and the produce is always awesome.

Maybe it has something to do with Hannah, you can see her there talking to the farmer. She got into this through a college volunteer job and Americorps, but it turns out she’s actually got food distribution in her blood (her grandfather started a food distribution co. in Providence decades ago).

Look out for some more posts on this, including some by Rolando, on other ways we source produce: how we’re getting it now, how we want to get it in the future.

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