It's been about three years since the Good Food Finder website went live. And though there have been a lot of changes in the passing years, the goal for the project has always remained the same: to help people find sources for good local food.
Last month, Local First Arizona Foundation relaunched the database with new tools and improvements that make the directory better than ever at achieving that goal. Some of the biggest improvements to the site include better location-based searching, advanced search functions, and addition of an interactive map.
The relaunch comes about a year after Local First Arizona took control of the project. Good Food Finder originally was created by chef-turned-entrepreneur Natalie Morris, who started the database after receiving a fellowship grant from the University of Arizona's Borderlands Food and Water Security program at the Southwest Center. Morris turned the project over to Local First Arizona last year.
Morris says she created Good Food Finder as a way to promote farmers and food producers. The goal was to provide a place for these people to showcase their products and to raise awareness about the abundance of local food in Arizona. The newly launched version of the site, Morris says, "has taken [that] vision and put it into action."
"Local First Arizona has taken what I started, and made significant progress in closing the food gap here in Arizona, and that makes me really excited," she wrote in an e-mail.
The new version of the site also turns away from being purely consumer-oriented and is now designed to help foster business to business relationships, too. Business owners now can take control of their pages within the site, to make updates to their own business listing. The idea is not only to help diners find sources for things like local produce and eggs, but also to help restaurant owners and chefs find local food producers on the wholesale level.
Another big change: the inclusion of sales outlets and agritourism sites. Though a database for u-pick farms already existed, the new Good Food Finder is now an additional resource to find farmers markets, CSAs, and local farms — even restaurants that source ingredients locally.
Local First Arizona is encouraging food industry businesses to search for themselves on the site and either claim their business' listing or register to create one. Basic listings on the site are free; business must meet certain requirements.
For more information or to check out the site for yourself, visit the Good Food Finder website.