Like many of us, Eric Diamond kept reading about increasing meat shortages as supply chain interruptions resulting from Coronavirus continue to mount. At the same time, he was talking to local farmers who no longer have an outlet for their fresh products thanks to shuttered or diminished-capacity restaurants.
It didn’t take much reflection to attempt to kill both of those birds with one stone. A few weeks back, Diamond, a partner in Central Kitchen
, launched the Love Local Collective
, which acts as the middleman between consumers and producers.
“I think what you’re going to see is, everyone now is understanding what the supply chain looks like, and if we can focus on the local supply chain, you’re not going to have these massive interruptions,” says Diamond. “We’re not relying on these enormous factories to send us beef that was raised in California; we’re looking at farms in Ashtabula.”
The Cuyahoga Valley is dotted with small family farms that produce beef, pork, poultry, dairy, produce and more shelf-stable products like grains, cured meats and honey. Not only are these farmers losing sales to restaurant accounts that are no longer calling, they are second guessing their second-largest summer outlets: farmer’s markets.
“The farmers are worried about going to the farmer’s markets because there aren’t as many people shopping,” Diamond explains. “They’re asking themselves if it’s worth it to drive in from Ashtabula for a Saturday market when there will be 25- to 40-percent less people there.”
Through the Love Local Collective, customers can choose from carnivore bundles, dairy bundles and vegetarian bundles. Included are items like chicken, steak, burgers, hot dogs, eggs, milk, cheese and seasonal produce. Orders might also include locally made products like pierogis, apple sauce, bloody Mary mix, mustards and pickles. Beef is grass-fed and non-GMO, poultry is free-range, and both come frozen and ready for the freezer.
Orders must be placed by Sunday evening for pick-up the following Saturday. Pick-ups at the Food Hub (7501 Carnegie Ave.) are efficient and contact-free.
“We started out at 100 orders the first few weeks and we sold out,” reports Diamond. “Over the next two weeks we are trying to get to 350 clients per week. It’s more efficient, it’s better for the economy, it’s better for the environment and it’s healthier food.”