This article was written by past Local Food Program Director, Steve Russell. Arizona’s local food and agriculture economy is one of the most biodiverse in the nation, yet many Arizonans are unaware of the thousands of local food producers in their own backyards.
Enter Good Food Finder (GFF), Arizona’s interactive online database of local foods. GFF is a statewide, web-based directory of Arizona farms, food crafters and local markets, established to tell their stories and promote food diversity. The goal of GFF is to provide a centralized online gathering space where anybody can learn about and connect with their local food providers, and help to disseminate local food products as widely as possible.
Local First Arizona (LFA) is proud to partner on this initiative, as it represents an important cornerstone piece in our commitment to growing Arizona’s local food economy. By providing this information to consumers in an interactive, easy to use fashion, we can help to build visibility and demand for good food on behalf of local food producers across the state.
Natalie Morris, the founder of this statewide food directory, is an Arizona native and formally trained culinarian who earned her Masters of Arts in Food Culture and Communications from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. In 2012, she was awarded the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowship grant for the Borderlands Food and Water Security program at the Southwest Center within the University of Arizona. In September of 2012, she utilized this funding to design and launch the Good Food Finder website. Natalie is currently teaching in the Maricopa Community College's Sustainable Foods Program and focusing on writing her first book on Arizona's culinary heritage.
What's Natalie up to now? Check out this recent feature in Phoenix New Times.
GFF now hosts nearly 1,000 local food providers, approximately 4,500 varieties of food, and almost 100 community resources to support local food providers and help consumers identify sales outlets. Users can search the directory by item or producer then use the Buyers Guide, the Eat Local Guide and the Resources page to find markets, restaurants and further education—all located in the state of Arizona.
Moving forward, the LFA team plans to throw the full weight of resources at our disposal to updating the site and ensuring data is accurate and useful to the user; we have even taken on new staff specifically to work on the research and distillation of information on the local food economy.
Our first priorities for the site are: to grow available information on the site by adding new food sources from across the state, to update information, and to optimize the database’s search functionality. We also aim to make a more consumer-friendly experience to help everyday folks to eat better, locally!
We have big plans for the future of GFF! These include creating a plugin widget for community partners who wish to host local food information on their own websites as well as adding special designations to the listings such as food safety & quality certifications and recognition programs, such as Slow Food’s Ark of Taste. In the near future, we will also create a data-filtering system to allow for location-based searches, and the option to browse by categories, much like on our own Statewide Local Business Directory.