Good Food Finder: Good Food Allies Create a Database of Local Producers

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Even the most encyclopedic members of the local-food movement are likely to have some holes in their knowledge of all things food and Arizona.

Enter, the Good Food Finder.

Created by Natalie Morris and Jennifer Woods, the co-founders of Good Food Allies, the online directory identifies and locates local food producers around the state.

Morris says she created the website "almost in an effort to prove that we have a lot more [locally produced food] than people think we do."

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Morris says she started the project after receiving a fellowship grant from the University of Arizona's Borderlands Food and Water Security program at the Southwest Center. She began researching and traveling to the many food producers all over the state.

Her goal was two-fold: to identify local food producers and to showcase the people behind the food.

"We really want to tell the stories of the people, of not where the food is coming from but who," she says.

The result of Morris and the Good Food Allies' work can now been seen and used online as the Good Food Finder. Though the product is still in beta (in other words, still being tested and improved upon) users can search the database by producer name and food product. Results then appear both in list form and on a map.

In the future, Morris hopes to be able to add location-based searching.

"The whole point was to be able to show the more traditional information in a modern way," she says.

Though the website has been up and running since last fall, Morris says the offline database is far more comprehensive than what's currently accessible online. But with only three people inputting the data, getting the website up to par with all the research is a slow process.

For now, the information is only viewable online. Lucky for the technology-challenged, Morris intends to make the information available in print form in the future. For the targeted audience, however -- think "a chef or mom on the go" -- Morris says an online product just made more sense.

The next step in the development of the project will be more research in the northern part of the state, though Morris says she currently is looking for funding sources to continue the work once her fellowship ends.

In the meantime, the Good Food Allies welcome suggestions and critiques as they work to finalize the product. Anyone willing to beta-test the finder can e-mail info@goodfoodallies.com for information on how to get involved.

"We have a lot of artistry going on," Morris says. "A lot of people doing great things with food."

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