In our mission to create local food systems, why has Husk focused on frozen food, not fresh? Well, the answer is surprisingly simple: because fresh only happens half the year in Indiana. Simple though that answer may be, however, it creates quite a complex problem for local food. A problem that we are working hard at Husk to solve.
As a marketer, one thing I have learned is that the battle over behaviors is hard-fought and rarely won. Through advertising and marketing, we can affect your desires, play to your pains and wants, and ultimately (hopefully) impact your spending patterns. One thing that is invariably difficult to do is to change your behavior.
The food supply is no different. In 2003, direct-ag-to-consumer sales represented 0.03% of the food dollars spent by consumers in the U.S. And today, after a decade that produced “Food, Inc.” and “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” seen an overwhelming public backlash against companies like Monsanto, watched the food section of every local newspaper rebound from a forgotten byline to full columns and spreads once again, and seen farmers markets spring up on every corner… what is the impact on food dollars spent on direct-ag-to-consumer sales? A whopping 0.07% of the food dollars.
Why? I thought farmers markets were hyp these days? Everyone wants local? It’s trending up. It’s a food revolution. Right?
The problem is that I, as well as every one of you, grew up sitting buckled into the front of a chrome-plated shopping week after week while mom filled the cart with food for the family. That is a behavior not quickly changed. Moreover, even for those of us who have developed new behaviors–scavenging through Farmers Markets and picking up frequent, fresh baskets of produce at CSA’s and road-side-stands–when November hits, the first frost comes, and it’s back to the grocery aisles we go.
That is the reason local food is still less than 1% of the food bought in the U.S. If we dare to carve deeper into the remaining 99% of grocery budgets, we have to get local food into the places where 99% of grocery budgets are spent: the local grocery stores.
… and at Husk, we are!