Business can be a tool for good.

AgLocal: Sustainable Meat, Simply

AgLocal: Sustainable Meat, Simply

You’ve seen the documentaries. The way our food is grown and processed today is far from the image we hold in our heads. The things done in the name of rising quarterly profits are enough to make your stomach churn. Our food supply has been hijacked by Big Food, and we’re the ones paying for it.

Stuck as unwilling accomplices in this scheme are America’s farmers and ranchers. Unable to stand alone against Tyson, Cargill, and Monsanto, they’re forced to play by Big Food’s rules or give up their livelihood and their land.

Or at least that’s how it used to be. Kansas City startup AgLocal thinks it has a better option. AgLocal uses the power of the internet to connect farmers directly to their ultimate customers -- restaurants and (very soon) home cooks.

Each farm builds an individual profile on AgLocal listing the meat it has for sale, along with background on the farm and its operations. Customers can then purchase the meat directly based on the cuts, quality, and sustainability practices that fit their needs. AgLocal serves as the broker, but the transaction is entirely between the person who raises the meat and the one who cooks it.

It’s a simple solution to what has before seemed like an overwhelming problem. Farmers and ranchers that want out of the Big Food cartels face the impossible task of finding customers and distributors on their own. Meanwhile, demanding chefs and cooks often have trouble finding sources for high quality, sustainably raised meat.

By building a digital market to connect farmers and consumers, AgLocal is improving the fortunes of both.

Right now AgLocal is only facilitating sales to restaurants (the orders are larger and more predictable), but there’s no reason to believe why its business model can’t scale to include every grocery shopper in the country.

Most Americans have been trained to identify the brand of the reseller when they buy meat -- the red and yellow of Tyson or the golden arches of McDonald’s. It’s what has allowed these corporations wrap damn-near anything resembling meat in their corporate packaging and still hold customers’ trust. We’ve forgotten what to look for in our food.

What AgLocal is doing, thanks to modern technology, is giving consumers an opportunity to look deeper than the plastic wrap in their grocer's freezer. How was this meat raised? Who raised it? Are their farming methods sustainable? Do they seem trustworthy? What’s their reputation?

Once consumers become accustomed to asking these questions again, it’s game over for Big Food. In a world with AgLocal, there’s no place for pink slime and growth hormones, just a transparent food supply and high quality meat.

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