Have You Heard of EuHerd?
There's a lot of talk these days about alleviating food waste. So many farmers and chefs and food vendors are trying to figure out ways put precious ingredients to work instead of sending them to a landfill.
There's a new San Diego entrant into this process and it's called Euherd.com. Founder Naz Athina Kallel calls it a virtual farmer
s market for ugly and excess food products. This online marketplace basically serves as a clearinghouse where farmers or food makers can sell or donate products they can't sell at a conventional market to chefs or other artisan food makers or individuals.All you have to do is enter the Farmers Market on the site, post your sale or donation or search for what you want to buy. Then you connect with buyers, sellers, or charities. You pay or accept money online via Paypal, and arrange the pick up. For this year, Kallel isn't charging anything for transactions except the Paypal transaction fee. Next year, she said, there will be a subscription plan of $99 a year to use the marketplace.
Kallel got the idea last November after having been diagnosed with stage four head and neck cancer. She was sick and in treatment for two years and in that time had to get nourishment through a feeding tube, which, she said, resulted in a complicated relationship with food.
"After my recovery I was terrified to enter a grocery store. I hadn't eaten in so long," she said. "So I decided to just attack the food arena and get connected." Originally from Kenya and East Africa, Kallel said that she was infused with the regional philosophy of not wasting food. "There are no expectations of a perfect harvest in Africa," she said. "If fruit wasn't sweet enough or ripe enough, the grower would just explain that there weren't optimal growing conditions but here's how to prepare it. You just don't throw it away."
As it happened she also went on the dating site Zoosk and had one of those "aha" moments when the idea of applying matchmaking services to the food arena came to her. She had also participated in the Startup Leadership program in San Diego to learn how to develop an online startup. Kallel's goal is to build a community website and use low-cost memberships to serve that community of "foodies, farmers, and food makers."
Already, Kallel has J.R. Organics, Coral Tree Farm & Nursery, and Wolf Peach Salsa on board as sellers.
"Laurel at Coral Tree Farm had excess fruit and herbs but not enough to sell to a market," Kallel explained. "But she had enough to sell to an artisan food maker, who turned it into private label jams to sell at the little store at the farm. In this case it was a trade arrangement and the food maker got to keep the excess produce to use." In another transaction, local company Juice Wave made a deal with J.R. Organics for their curly kale. "There was nothing wrong with the kale but the farmer wanted to move it quickly because the weather was so hot so he gave them a good deal on it."
Kallel is also in talks with the San Diego Food Bank and Feeding America about participating. And she's also created a section on the site for artisan food makers to move their products should they wind up with excess food due to a cancelled order, event cancellation, or overproduction.
"The only requirement for sellers is that they're certified to sell their products and compliant with the regulations that control their food business," Kallel said. "And if your desire is to sell a product but it's getting to the end of its sell-by date, we can set it up as a donation so you can get a tax break.
"This is all about collaboration and keeping good food from landfills," said Kallel. "And for those food makers who are part of the locavore movement, it's a way to show customers that they're using local ingredients from growers they trust.".