“If we could source one ingredient more responsibly in order to have the biggest positive impact on our local community, what would that ingredient be?”
We asked ourselves this question in late 2014. We are Coffeebar - a café - and our most important ingredient is coffee beans – not exactly a locally-sourced commodity. But swirling around just behind our beans is our second most important ingredient: our MILK.
Each week our baristas serve up around 200 gallons worth of steamed whole milk. That’s not a small amount of dairy.
This obvious realization got us thinking…there MUST be a way for us to leverage our need for milk to impact our community and strengthen our local foodshed.
Almost immediately we were turned onto a young, family owned dairy in Fallon Nevada, just an hour east of Reno. We reached out and within the week we were privileged to meet with Isidro Alves of Sandhill Dairy. He spoke passionately about the health of his cows, the nutritional vitality of his low-temperature pasteurized, non-homogenized (cream top = yum) MILK and the benefits of drinking close to the source.
It took one conversation, one steam, and one taste. That week, our second most important ingredient started arriving the same day it was milked, from 60 miles away. Talk about IMPACTFUL! We’re paying less overall for a higher quality product, PLUS Isidro and Sandhill Dairy acquired a consistent and committed customer, while taking home 100 cents on each dollar.
So a local food system DOES exist here in the High Desert! This early success sparked more questions at Coffeebar…”If one of our most important ingredients is this simple to find locally, how else can we change our business to better support our local economy?”
Enter the Great Basin Community Food Co-op – in our opinion, the single most engaged and connected promoter and distributor of local and organic goods here in Reno. In addition, to being an independent community-owned grocery store, the Co-op serves as a regional food hub – farmers bring their food to the coop and the Co-op delivers that food to kitchens across town.
Their online marketplace, DROPP (Distributors of Regional and Organic Produce and Products), enables individuals and businesses to shop for local food that is currently in season. DROPP also provides access to organic food being grown outside of our local community via the Co-op’s organic distributors.
We found that using DROPP, not only could we easily buy tomatoes grown in Midtown at Lost City Farm, we could switch our entire kitchen to ORGANIC produce, even when none is available locally.
Again, it took one conversation, one tomato, and one taste.
That week all of our produce started arriving strictly from LOCAL or ORGANIC farms. We’re paying the same amount for a dramatically superior product, and more of our money stays here in Reno, right where it belongs.