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7 small food businesses & farmers to support from afar

Ideas for how to engage with your community (and eat well) while social distancing.

Now more than ever, we hold the power to vote with our dollars. To support the small businesses in peril and pave the way to a future where the quirky corner bookstore with creaky wood floors is still thriving. And that family-run farm is still operating a stand at the market with ethically-raised beef. To a future where you can still order your turmeric from a female-owned company disrupting the antiquated commodity spice trade model. And your olive oil from a California-based farmer (also female) who mills a blend of organic Koroneiki, Arbequina, and Arbosana olives. 

…a future where old-fashioned human contact is still in vogue. And maybe, if we’re lucky, a future where we can stand closer than six feet away from each other (!!!).

For the best shot at making that happen, here are seven small food businesses to support from afar during the COVID-19 pandemic 

1. Diaspora Co 

Diaspora Co is on a mission to build a more equitable spice trade by supporting small, organic spice farmers in India that embrace sustainable, regenerative agriculture. The result? Potent, 100% heirloom spices with a guaranteed same-year harvest (for comparison, conventional spices can still be sitting on a grocery store shelf five years later). While the mass market supply chain earns farmers somewhere in the ballpark of 2% of the final revenue, Diaspora’s direct-trade model cuts out the middleman to more than triple that, while enabling them to prioritize flavor and sustainability over yield and storability. 

Their spice collection includes Pragati Turmeric, Aranya Pepper, Sannam Chillies, and Baraka Cardamom.

2. Happy Valley Meat Company 

Happy Valley’s Meat Company is designed to connect chefs with farmers around the country. The goal? Foster more transparency into the supply chain while promoting ethical, sustainable practices that directly improve the lives of farmers and food animals. Their welfare commitment encompasses the following: 

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst with ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor
  • Freedom from discomfort by providing an environment with appropriate shelter, comfort, and climate
  • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease by prevention, rapid diagnosis, and treatment
  • Freedom to express normal behavior by providing sufficient space, facilities, and company of other animals of the same species 
  • Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering 

The list of restaurants and fast casual chains in Manhattan alone that Happy Valley Meat Company supplies includes Momofuku, The Dutch, Dig Inn, Frenchette, Print, Racine’s, Mint Kitchen, Gotham Bar and Grill, and more. 

In response to the sweeping restaurant shutdowns, Happy Valley launched a direct-to-consumer contactless delivery solution.

3. Haven’s Kitchen

Haven’s kitchen is an all-day café tucked away in a former 18th-century carriage house on West 17th street in Manhattan. Come evenings and weekends, it doubles as a venue for classes and events focused on seasonal, low-waste cooking. To support their mission of getting more people cooking at home, they launched a line of five refrigerated, globally-inspired sauces in a pouch: Gingery Miso, Herby Chimichurri, Nutty Lemongrass, Red Pepper Romesco, and Zippy Chili Harissa. Although shipment has temporarily been suspended as the team works from home, you can still stock up on their sauces at a nearby grocery store.

4. Pineapple Collaborative 

Pineapple Collaborative was created to foster community among women who love food via frequent in-person events in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington DC with the likes of Amy Chaplin, Samin Nosrat, and Priya Krishna. Their content explores the intersection of food and identity with a peek into the pantries of innovative female chefs and entrepreneurs across the country, and this past December they launched their inaugural line of products in partnership with women producers and growers: The Olive Oil and The Apple Cider Vinegar. Bonus points for free shipping with orders over $50 (code: BETTERTOGETHER). 

5. Blue Hill at Stone Barns

Blue Hill at Stone Barns is a restaurant, working four-season farm, and agricultural center 30 miles north of New York City in the verdant Hudson Valley. At the helm is philosopher-chef Dan Barber, author of The Third Plate and fierce advocate for thoughtful conversation around food sourcing, flavor-forward agricultural policies, and environmental responsibility. 

Their resourcED boxes, which are available for pickup at Stone Barns or their New York City outpost in Greenwich Village, include raw and fermented vegetables, whole grains, local meats, pastured eggs, freshly-milled flatbread, yogurt, cookies, and pastries. There is also an option to donate a 10-person box to hospital workers on the frontline of the pandemic. 

6. Traveling Spoon

Traveling Spoon is a platform that connects travelers around the world with local, vetted home cooks who host private market visits, cooking classes, and in-home meals across Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceana. Their “travel off the eaten path” experiences range from learning how to make traditional dosas with a grandmother in India to grinding curry paste on a farm in Northern Thailand.

With many of the hosts relying exclusively on earnings from hosting Traveling Spoon experiences, now is a particularly trying time. In response, a Host Emergency Fund has been established where you can make a contribution of any size, with 100% of donations going directly to hosts as relief grants. Donations can be made through their website or via PayPal.

7. Hawthorne Valley Farm 

Hawthorne Valley is a diversified, 900-acre, USDA certified organic and Animal Welfare Approved farm in upstate New York that also boasts a 650A Biodynamic® certification with Demeter, the world’s oldest ecological certification organization. Their products,  which I was first introduced to at the Union Square Greenmarket, but which are also sold in limited amounts in Whole Foods, include yogurt (plain and maple vanilla), raw milk hard and soft cheeses, buttermilk, a range of fermented products (the most popular of which is sauerkraut), bread made with daily-milled wheat, pastries, and meat.

To reduce interaction time at market stands, Hawthorne Valley is now permitting customers to place orders in advance by downloading and filling out the pre-order form.

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