In 2004, when I started my previous bakery, "local food" was a slightly obscure and fairly impractical concept as far as most people were concerned. Sure, it was happening . . . but, aside from Barry at Rudy's Taco's, it was something that mostly occurred in hip corners of big metropolitan cities, or in small niche shops that were out of the way and hard to find. During the planning stages of said former bakery, I met with a farmer who was raising layer hens. In order to accurately complete my business plan, I needed to have a honest grasp on the cost of my ingredients. When I inquired about purchasing his free-range eggs at a wholesale volume, he thought I was joking. Despite the high-quality of his eggs and his business's existing infrastructure to supply food establishments, he had never been approached to do so. He named his price, and consequently supplied the bakery's eggs throughout it's lifetime. Unfortunately, I struggled to find other local ingredients to purchase for the bakery. Local purchases of fruits, vegetables, and eggs was the best I could do; I wasn't aware of any other commercial bakery in the state of Illinois doing even that much at the time.
Fast forward to 2016. Thanks to some fine Iowa folks pushing the envelope early (Rick Hartmann at Small Potatoes Farm, Barry Eastman at Rudy's Taco's, Kamyar Enshayan at UNI's CEEE, Practical Farmers of Iowa, and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture to name but a few), sourcing local food has become much easier for food establishments. New wholesale marketing streams have opened up to farmers. Businesses like FarmTable Procurement & Delivery and Iowa Food Hub have stepped up to fill in infrastructure gaps, ensuring food is distributed from farm to food establishment. And, consumers like you are demanding to see more local food on the menu! Local food is hip. It's in demand, and the supply is out there. It's a beautiful thing, really. However, it's also so very much more. An extremely dedicated group of farmers, food business owners, and you are changing our food system - to the benefit of our bodies, environment, and local economy.
Thus, in an effort to continue to push the envelope, to remain true to the spirit of making a significant impact on our local food system (our health, our environment, and our economy) and not just cash in on a trend . . . Milkbox Bakery would like to introduce you to our farmers. . .