It's the great filler of gaps. Creating efficient markets, particularly to meet needs, trends and communities which are poorly served by the 'high street'.
On that score I was really impressed by Local Harvest (via PSFK - quite similar to the UK recent launch of localfoodshop.co.uk). Then I checked their launch date. 1998. Now that is REALLY impressive. I've had quite a few discussions this week about farming, which I must admit is far from being an area I'm very knowledgeable about - but I love their description of what Local Harvest is all about:
"The richness, variety, and flavor of our communities, food systems, and diets is in jeopardy. The exclusive focus on economic efficiency has brought us low prices and convenience through large supermarkets chains, agribusiness and factory farms, while taking away many other aspects of our food lives, like our personal relation with our food and with the people who produce it. More and more people are realizing this and actively working to turn the tide and to preserve a food industry based on family-owned, small scale businesses. They are our best guarantee against a world of styrofoam-like long-shelf-life tomatoes and diets dictated from corporate boardrooms. The Buy Local movement is quickly taking us beyond the promise of environmental responsibility that the organic movement delivered, and awakening the US to the importance of community, variety, humane treatment of farm animals, and social and environmental responsibility in regards to our food economy.
Who Are We?
LocalHarvest was founded in 1998, and is now the number one informational resource for the Buy Local movement and the top place on the Internet where people find information on direct marketing family farms. We now have about 9000 members, and are growing by about 8 new members every day. Through our servers, our website and those of our partners serve about one and a half million page views per month to the public interested in buying food from family farms. LocalHarvest is located in Santa Cruz, California, and was founded by Guillermo Payet, a software engineer and activist dedicated to generating positive social change through the Internet."