Food Systems Innovation

In April, Legacy hosted a boat-to-table dinner and engaging discussion on food systems in the beautiful garden of Karie and David Thomson. We were joined by Amanda Oborne of Ecotrust, who shared with us about her team’s important work, and Reid Ten Kley from Iliamna Fish Co, who provided delicious salmon for the dinner and shared with us a rich history of his family’s involvement in this work. We were impressed by the personal connection to the fish we were so fortunate to enjoy.


A few key takeaways from the conversation:

Scale was a core theme throughout the discussion—supporting independent producers to scale by partnering with big buyers and institutions (i.e. farm-to-school movement)

  • In mentioning Food Corps, it was noted that kids that experience growing food with their own hands, are more likely to try that food
  • Connections and infrastructure are key for smaller producers to take their business to the next level (i.e. Ecotrust’s The Redd facility and Iliamna’s ability to now provide salmon directly to 3,000 families)
  • In order to be sustainable, this work needs to be profitable—ensuring a broad reach and fair pricing for local farmers and fishermen supports profitability
  • There’s a need to create a supply chain that is not based on the commodity system—by creating a new supply chain at scale, farmers and other producers can process, transport and sell their products more directly to buyers, maintaining control/value throughout the supply chain
  • Fisheries are an important focus for R&D in determining what’s next in scaling up local food movement—many parallels to terrestrial farming and agriculture

Lifestyle can be a challenge to sustainable eating—when we buy in bulk at Costco or primarily eat at work/school, busy lives must be considered in food system solutions

  • Famers markets, CSFs, and CSAs (community supported fisheries/agriculture) are a responsible way to source food, but they are not always convenient—need a platform for food distribution that plays well in large-scale system
  • Ecotrust supports farmers and other producers to achieve scale and iterate into an entirely new food system that’s convenient, accessible, and affordable, and also works with buyers and consumers to build connections to the local and regional produced products they want
  • Modern freezing techniques have changed the landscape for small boat fishermen—there’s no reason now to buy thawed out frozen fish from the seafood counter, we should become comfortable about buying frozen and canned fish; there’s education needed around this

If you are interested in learning more…

  • Click here for an article Amanda authored in SSIR, “Scaling Up Local Food”
  • For a visual snapshot of Ecotrust’s current work, click here for their 2017 Program Brochure
  • The Fish on My Plate is a PBS Frontline episode in which bestselling author and lifelong fisherman Paul Greenberg spends a year eating seafood for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Paul is a friend of Ecotrust’s and assures Reid that the segment is “on point” with our discussion from last week. Click here for the full video and click here for a trailer.
  • We thought you might also be interested in ReFED, another Legacy member-supported organization working in this space