Why source locally? This can be a point of tension for many small businesses. You might think price is the first obstacle but in reality that piece is much more flexible (open to negotiation) that many of the other challenges.
First, there are the challenges related to our business — being a small gourmet food truck. For example, we won’t meet order minimums for most distributors (local or other wise). This means that we have to go to restaurant stores to buy our nonperishable items and find bakeries and produce companies that will charge little to nothing for delivering a small quantity of product.
Also due to our size and business model, deliveries is another challenge. Accepting deliveries at the truck won’t work because a) we don’t have the space and b) we are hoping to be so busy we won’t have time to stop and check-in a delivery. Since we are so small, we won’t be at our kitchen much, so having food delivered there is not really an option either.
These are problems related to our business model and size. There are also larger, more systemic issues of working in Boston that make sourcing locally challenging. For one, many of the larger farms that do wholesale are further away from Boston. This means either more time away from the farm for the farmer to deliver produce or it means hiring a distributor which adds cost. Two, the streets in Boston are so narrow, traffic is horrible, and parking is impossible. (Especially when there are snow drifts up to the roof.) Why would you want to leave your bucolic fields of produce and flocks of chickens to drive a huge refrigerated truck around Boston? I don’t think I would! Or if I did, only for a really fabulous sale — not to drop off 20 lbs of carrots to Bon Me.
BUT, all these challenges aside farmers and food businesses are trying to make it work. Metro Pedal Power is providing distribution in Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge for two local farms. Other farmers are making weekly trips to the city to drop off Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares and are interested in getting some publicity on local restaurants’ menus.
We at Bon Me are hopeful that we can make it work for us and for the farmer. We know that our customers will appreciate the high quality and taste of food grown locally. Also, knowing that we, as a local business, are supporting other local businesses just seems to make sense!