Sustainable Food Systems Sourcebook

Fair Food

1315 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, 19107, United States

Map Location

Food Systems
Consulting Services
General info

In 2000, renowned Philadelphia entrepreneur Judy Wicks asked me to help her find a way to get more restaurants to purchase from local farms. Judy knew that if her restaurant, the famous White Dog Cafe in West Philly, was the only one buying from these farms, the small family farms would go out of business. My background was in cooking and I passionately believe that everyone deserves to eat the healthiest, freshest food – regardless of their income.

We needed to solve logistical issues in the food chain that would allow for consistent delivery and reliable product so that chefs would be willing to switch vendors and support these farms. In the early days, I acted as the “translator” between the farmer and the chefs, making sure that each constituent understood the needs of the other.

By 2003, Fair Food was successfully advocating for restaurants and chefs to source locally, but the average consumer still had limited access to local sustainably produced meat. As a pilot project, I approached Reading Terminal Market about setting up a weekly folding table to sell frozen local sustainable meats, and was granted a coveted space in their centrally located food court. Demand grew feverishly and, though I never intended to start a retail business, within a few years, the Farmstand moved to a 300-square-foot and then a 750-square-foot year-round stall in the Reading Terminal Market, selling all local meats, dairy, eggs, poultry, vegetables, fruits, and other value-added products.

Even as Fair Food has expanded, our underlying goals have remained the same: we build connections and support systems in the wholesale food marketplace in order to help local farmers and producers bring their product to the public. Fair Food provides the soft infrastructure integral to a local, sustainable food system. This benefits both the farmer by increasing opportunities to sell their goods, and the consumer by increasing access to fresh, healthy, local food. Through this work we have come to serve as a food systems expert regionally and nationally. We currently deliver a diverse array of programs and services to benefit our region’s farmers, food producers, and consumers across the economic spectrum.