May 29, 2013
“Shake the hand that feeds you,” says Michael Pollan in his book, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.” But really think about it: have you ever been able to shake the hand of a person who is actually feeding you? That is, can you shake the hand of those who grow your food?
Elizabeth McVay Greene, the product of a strong agricultural upbringing, wanted to create a digital exchange for the agriculture sector with Plovgh. Dedicated to eliminating intermediaries in the agriculture sector, it gives farmers the opportunity to reach customers directly.
In other words, consumers can now interact directly with farmers through Plovgh and shake the hand of the people who grow their food and feed them. Michael Pollan would be impressed.
Farmers can post crops still in the ground to Plovgh, where you can then see what is available. After browsing, you can choose what specific produce you want from a diverse selection of responsible, sustainable farms.
Then you place an order, and your produce moves directly to your city from the farm. The only way to get fresher produce would be to grow it yourself in your backyard.
“I started talking to farms in the US, from small ones to ten thousand-acre powerhouses,” says Greene. “Uniformly, they kept telling me that if they had to change one thing about the industry, they would want a more effective way to reach their customers.”
The benefits of providing farmers with an outlet for direct sales are endless. Farmers are able to retain all of their profit, minus what it takes to get the produce from point A to B, which is generally a very low cost. This ensures better upkeep of their farm and continued food growth.
Additionally, the quality of food does not suffer with a direct customer outlet. Most of the food we see in grocery stores, moved via intermediaries like Cargill, sits in a warehouse for weeks before hitting the floor for sale.
There are many companies that are cutting out the intermediaries, and it has been wildly successful for most. If you look at Dwolla, a digital transaction company, you can see that cutting out the major credit card companies has worked very well for them. Plovgh is no exception.
“I think that the time is right for a change in the food sector,” says Greene. “There is a ground swell of interest in the quality of products that come straight from the farm.”
A lot of farmers lack the employees, time, or resources to pack up a harvest and drive it to the local market every couple of days, but Plovgh changes the entire game. Everybody benefits as consumers get fresh greens while farmers get green papers: win-win.
Plovgh was featured at Tech Cocktail's Downtown Vegas Mixer & Startup Showcase on May 9th.
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