It used to be that belonging to a co-op meant you’d have to stock the shelves and actually go to the store to shop for your food. Now, a number of start-ups are bringing the co-op to your laptop, so you can connect with other like-minded shoppers and collectively buy local food. We're calling it techno-locavorism. Here are a few of the most interesting efforts:
• Meetup.com, the interest-driven group networking site, has proven to be the perfect forum for gatherings of local eating/buying enthusiasts. One example: The Inland Organic Produce Buying Club, based in Redlands and Cherry Valley, CA, pools their money every week to make a group purchase from an organic wholesaler or local farm, and divides the produce evenly amongst the participants. In other words, it functions like a classic CSA -- except they met up on the internet.
• It's not just produce available at the burgeoning online farmers market. New York carnivores have also taken to Meetup, by banding together to buy whole animals at NYC Meatshare. Based in Park Slope, Brooklyn (arguably the most locavoracious NYC borough), the group gets together to order a whole & half pig from B&Y Farms or to plan grassfed cooking lessons. Sign us up!
• At Wholeshare, retail consumers band together to navigate the wholesale marketplace as one powerful buying block -- skipping the middle man, supporting local producers, and saving money. It's invite only (for now) -- sign up here.
• A weekly email update out of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, called This Batch takes root in the notion that not everyone wants a bushel of rutabaga or a sack of rye every month from their CSA. Instead, they dispatch an email each weekend with what's fresh the following week -- you can opt for either a single or family-sized portion for pick-up.
• At Plovgh, you can sign up as either a farm or a consumer and get hooked in to your local food culture, no matter where you live. Help kick-off this "neighborhood farmstand" at Plovgh's official launch party on February 12th!