Foodee CEO Ryan Spong is one of the founding board of directors for the Knives and Forks Community Investment Co-op (CIC). This co-op is made up by a group of community leaders, like Ryan, who care about the social, economic and cultural needs of British Columbia in relation to local food. Together, they promote and provide strategic and responsible community investment in the local food economy when it comes to production and distribution.
“The ethos behind Knives and Forks is aligned to what we do here at Foodee,” says Ryan. “We help local food businesses grow—and by extension, boost local economies, nourish a more sustainable food chain and enliven our local food culture.”
Today, we’ll look at:
- How supporting local businesses boost local economies
- The essential relationship between local restaurants and farmers
- The local food economy and the Knives and Forks Investment Co-op
How supporting local businesses boost local economies
We recently wrote a blog post called ‘Why support local restaurants’ in which we discussed the power consumers have to make or break small, owner-operated restaurants in our neighbourhoods. In the post, we shared some staggering facts. For example, did you know that every dollar spent locally circulates 2.5 times within the community through profits, jobs and charities?
A study in Chicago on the multiplier effect found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained in the city while only $43 of each $100 spent at a chain retailer.
Other research shows that 73 percent more money stays in the community when spent locally and that by shifting $1 in $10 to locally-owned businesses could create 1,600 jobs in the local economy.
The old saying that “the rising tide floats the boats” is truly applicable when it comes to supporting local businesses. With those stats in mind, local business owners and consumersalike have more incentive to support other local businesses than to support corporations and chain businesses. That doesn’t even take into consideration the neighbourly relationship that can be established when community members support one another.
We get into that more in a blog post on ‘Why eating local food is good for you, your community and your planet’—if you’re interested.
But in the end, it’s all about relationships.
The essential relationship between local restaurants and farmers
Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada’s vice-president for the western provinces spoke with CBC News about how partnerships between chefs and farmers have become more common across Canada—and beyond—over the last few decades. According to him, this shift toward locally-sourced food has “captured the imagination of not only the chefs but certainly our customers and millennials in particular, who are really concerned about where their food comes from.”
Sourcing local ingredients is a growing trend among restaurants. Chefs that have sworn-by sourcing local food say that it’s fresher, tastier, healthier and looks better. This is often because the ingredients were harvested and shipped faster without having to be frozen and sprayed first.
Plus, restaurants that support local farmers are popular with today’s conscious consumers (and producers) who care about reducing their carbon footprint. Sourcing local food has become part of a modern social, cultural and environmental movement, but it’s also becoming increasingly cost beneficial to do so. As the price for long-haul shipping continues to jump for various reasons, more restaurants are turning to local farmers for seasonal produce.
The local food economy and the Knives and Forks Investment Co-Op
As a local business (and supporter of them), we here at Foodee care deeply about growing our local food economy. It’s also becoming easier, more cost-effective and sustainable to support local farmers and locally-owned and operated restaurants, as we mentioned earlier.
The work that Knives and Forks Investment Co-op has done in BC since its founding in 2015 is proud to contribute to that. The co-op was founded to provide capital to invest in local, food-related businesses with outstanding management, innovation and demand. To date, the co-op has invested in Sunday Cider, Coast Protein and The Flourist local grain bakery.
Community Investment Co-ops (CICs), like Knives and Forks, are new platforms for impact funds that support local economic and business development. They aim to connect local investors with local ventures in need of financing—and are becoming popular across BC.
At Knives and Forks, members attend a semi-annual pitch session where local food businesses pitch their business ideas and members vote on who moves forward in the investment process. Finalist businesses move through a due diligence process before a decision is made by the board of directors—and the successful pitch-maker receives funding and support.
The next Knives and Forks pitch event is on April 10, 2019. Space is limited, so RSVP now if you’re interested.
Learn more about Knives and Forks—and find out more about how to become a member, investor or pitch your local food-related business idea.
Special thanks to the author & Foodee for their permission to republish this article.