Recipes for Success from Committed Local Food Buyers

From left to right: Kate Radosevic of Local First Arizona Foundation, Stephen Jones of the larder + the delta, John Panza of BiGA by SENSES, Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farm, Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper, and Todd Hanley of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market & Kitchen.  Photo by Maria Lopez

From left to right: Kate Radosevic of Local First Arizona Foundation, Stephen Jones of the larder + the delta, John Panza of BiGA by SENSES, Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farm, Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper, and Todd Hanley of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market & Kitchen.

Photo by Maria Lopez

Sourcing local food is one of the best ways to support Arizona’s farmers, feed our families and customers good food, and strengthen the community and economy around us.

At the 2019 Arizona Good Food Expo, Local First Arizona Foundation hosted a conversation with five of Arizona’s leaders in establishing strong local procurement relationships: Chef John Panza of BiGA by SENSES, Shanti Rade of Whipstone Farms, Chef Stephen Jones of the larder + the delta, Chef Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper, and Todd Hanley of Hotel Congress and Maynards Market & Kitchen (you can get to know each of them here!).

Amplified over the the buzz of 70 local food purveyors and 300 buyers and local food advocates, the panelists shared their experiences and insights to cultivate, maintain, and strengthen partnerships across the food industry to bring customers the best food Arizona has to offer.

Logistical suggestions flew left and right: “Change your menus to reflect what’s in season!” “Communicate through the challenges.” “Educate yourself and ask questions.”

But when asked to provide advice to those looking to source locally, our panelists boiled their lessons down to the following:

  1. It takes time, and patience.

  2. Don’t give up.

  3. Go to your farmers market, then go to the farms; let your farmers educate you.

  4. Tell your story: to your customers and community.

  5. Have a vision, commit to it, and keep chipping away at it.

 
There’s no local food without local growers. Shanti Rade from Whipstone Farms shares her story with a potential customer.

There’s no local food without local growers. Shanti Rade from Whipstone Farms shares her story with a potential customer.

 

We all know that sourcing Arizona's homegrown foods is essential to build a healthier Arizona, and we’ll continue to watch these five leaders, as well as the incredible purveyors from this year’s event to see what collaborations they come up with next.

Thank you to Valley Schools Employee Benefits group for convening this panel and fostering such a vibrant discussion.

To find more restaurants that source locally and meet the farms that sell to them, start your search on Good Food Finder.