Why Is Sourcing Your Food Locally So Important?
More and more people want to be connected to their food and where it comes from because we're realizing how important healthful food sources and systems are to the health of our communities and ourselves. When you source the food for your business from a local farmer, rancher, or distributor, you're investing directly in the structure that promotes food security for everyone in our city. The more we strengthen our local food channels, the more they will be able to support us.
Get Connected with Your Local Food Suppliers In 3 Steps
Take Inventory of Your Food Needs
Take a look at your regular inventory and start with the basic things you buy every day or every week (meats, butter, cheese, eggs, breads, grains, etc.). How many of those things can you replace with a local version? Ideally, you'll be able to source 100% of your food locally and in season, but don't let the prospect changing all of your buying habits overnight overwhelm you and your business practices. Even starting with just one food product will help support our local food economy. Once you try out your new supplier relationships, you'll be able to see what works and then add more inventory to your order.
Find a Local Producer or Distributor
Use the links below to find the local food producers and distributors who service your area and some of the main food products they provide. You can choose to work with a distributor, or in some cases, work directly with the farmer or rancher. Start by prioritizing the foods from the inventory you made in Step 1. Then look for a partner that can supply what you need, with a schedule that works for you, who accepts the kind of payment that works with your cash flow, and who uses the farming practices that are most important to you and your customers.
Give'em a Call and Place an Order
Many food producers and distributors have an order form to make ordering easy. Some of those are available online, others you'll need to call first. In general though, it's a good idea to start your relationship with a phone call so that you can get answers to any questions or concerns you may have about how this partnership will work. See the section below with some sample questions you may want to ask your new food supplier.
Resources for Colorado Food Producers & Retailers
If You Are a Food Producer...
Be sure to connect with these local resources to support your food producing operation. The State of Colorado's Department of Agriculture and its partners provide extensive programs which help farmers begin farming, find financing, get certified and connect with markets. Be sure to check out all of their resources, including these:
- Colorado Agriculture Financing
- USDA Fresh Produce Audit Verification Program support, including GAP and GHP audits
- Colorado Pesticide Application Information and Registry
- Organic Certification overview and resources
- Colorado Food Products Inspection and Rules
If You Are a Retailer...
Check out these local resources to strengthen your retail operation.
- More tips for buying and selling local food
- Overview of licensing a food business in Denver
- Denver FRESH is a City and County of Denver program designed to expand grocery stores in underserved areas.
- Opportunities and support in starting new retail operations in Denver
Tips for Successfully Sourcing Local Foods for Your Business
Download and Print the PDF of this Page for Easy Reference
Plan A Local Menu
Remember that local meats, butter, cheese, eggs, grains, and honey can be on your menu year-round. Highlight short-season foods by offering a special based on availability.
Buy Foods That Are In Season
Sourcing food while it’s in season increases demand and builds a healthy market for producers. Check out our handy Colorado Seasonal Foods guide.
Find Ordering Sheets to Make Ordering Easier
Contact suppliers and distributors for up to date pricing and order sheets, which you can keep on hand for quick processing of your next order.
Tips for Successful Relationship-Building
Farmers plan their planting schedule in the winter, so it is best to talk in the winter or very early spring. Communication and flexibility are key. Farmers cannot predict the weather, and you will have to be flexible. Good communication and trust will build a successful relationship and experience for all.
Check in With the Law
Ensure you’re following all of the rules and regulations for health, safety, and licensing in order to sell food. This is a good idea regardless of where you're sourcing your food. More info is at cofarmtomarket.com.
Tell Your Customers
Include food sourcing info next to each menu item or have a small sourcing and bio section in the back of the menu connecting your customers with your suppliers. Not only are you providing crucial sourcing information for your customers who want to know, you're topping off your menu with a dollop of warm fuzzies.
Find a Local Food Supplier for Your Business
Use these links below to get to a short list of local food suppliers. For the most complete list of Colorado food suppliers, check out this spreadsheet from the DEH's Corner Store program or head over to the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Market Maker online directory.