darcy-landis-whole-foods-marketFrom Darcy Landis, Local Products Coordinator at Whole Foods Market ®

In my role as Local Products Coordinator for Whole Foods Market, my goal is to help create and transform supply chain transparency in the natural foods industry in the communities we serve. I’m also interested in supporting local producers by bringing their products to market, and in going deeper over time to have a different conversation around sourcing, downstream impact, community giving and the environment.

Often when I first find a local product, it’s at a farmer’s market or restaurant. Once we have their product in the store, over time, I want to talk with producers about what growing practices they use and how they source their ingredients, encouraging them to adopt business practices that align with our core values while providing the resources to help them do so. I think about how we can help suppliers align their vision and highest goals for their product with ours at Whole Foods Market, and I believe it’s in this authenticity and alignment that we remain unique as a retailer and a trend spotter.

Being based in the west where water is a limited resource, I’m currently reflecting on the power of indoor growing as a vital trend in sustainable farming and food security. The power of a locally grown food supply with year-round product from greenhouses allows us to save water, limit pesticide use, and support growing and harvesting practices that are ergonomically beneficial for workers. This leads to a better process for all stakeholders involved, from the growers to the customers.

Supporting and growing this kind of industry creates year-round jobs and stability, and helps workers become part of a business for the long-term. Indoor growing also gives us the opportunity to play and experiment with varietals and to ask producers to try new things that we wouldn’t otherwise request, but which may be of interest to our customers. We could ask them to grow a small row of black-seeded Simpson Lettuce or an alpine strawberry, just to test a crop that wouldn’t necessarily make sense to try on a large farm. In doing this, we can begin to introduce customers to heritage varietals and bring delight to them in their process of discovery. For this work to really thrive, we need close partnerships with culinary leaders and the restaurant community, because when customers see and taste new things when eating out and then find it in our stores, it gives them a context and a comfort level and brings joy and inspiration to their home cooking, as well as a sort of confidence.

All of these things tie back to community, to experience, to thoughtful and meaningful production, and to growing our roots deeper and more consciously in our connection to food. I’m looking forward to this session of FoodBytes! and to seeing how these producers may embody some of these values and commitments in their work and creations.

Catch up with Darcy, Whole Foods and the rest of our incredible judges at FoodBytes! Boulder! Grab your ticket today!

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