Sustainable America Blog

Real Time Farms

Real Time Farms is a crowdsourced food guide, meaning that anyone can add information to the guide. Is your local farmers market the best? Add it to the guide. Do you know of a great artisan cheese maker? Add it to the guide. Maybe you own a farm that grows the best tomatoes in the state – add it to the guide!

The goal of the guide is to help people make informed decisions about the foods they eat. According to the Real Time Farms website,

Real Time Farms is a crowdsourced, for-profit social venture committed to food transparency across all facets of our food world (farms, markets, food artisans, restaurants, etc)… When you know where your food comes from you can make your own choice as to what is important to you as an eater: local, organic, grass fed, free range, pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic-free, wild caught, hydroponic, etc.

Real Time Farms goes on to describe the advantages of being a for-profit social enterprise,

Non-profits, “rely primarily on charitable contributions, public funding and foundation grants to support their programs and cover their administrative overhead,” whereas social enterprises, “rely primarily on their earned income stream, and like any other company, if needed, it takes loans, invites capital investments, forms partnerships etc. in order to expand its business activities.

Simply put, if a social venture succeeds in developing a scalable business model that complements its social mission, it will not only be self sustaining in its efforts, but have the resources to do things that non-profits typically have a harder time doing, like pay competitive salaries for top talent. But a for-profit social venture has more than one bottom line; it must have a clear social impact that it can be accountable to as much as its profits.

The most obvious benefit of Real Time Farms is that you can simply type in your zip code to find the farmers markets, farmers, and food artisans in your area. If you think there is something missing, you can add it yourself to help the next user out. This service is hugely helpful to locavores, foodies and farmers alike.

Real Time Farms says they haven’t had any problems with people purposely posting inaccurate information in the guide, but there are procedures in place to handle that if it were to happen.

Much of Real Time Farms’ current information was gathered by their Food Warriors, a group of dedicated interns that visit farms, food artisans and farmers markets documenting growing practices and taking photos and videos. During their time as Food Warriors, they also publish stories to the Real Time Farms blog and get involved in their local food communities. The program is now in its fourth season, with Food Warriors in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Madison, New York, Providence, and Washington DC.

Real Time Farms has recently partnered with the James Beard Award-winning home-cooking website Food52 to help give home cooks the tools to chose ingredients they feel good about.

Cooking at home and eating local are both delicious, healthy ways to minimize food miles, limit your consumption of oil, and decrease food waste – issues central to Sustainable America’s mission.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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