Startup Healthy PlanEat connects consumers with local farmers, advancing sustainable food movement

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages /  Photohaiku
©GettyImages / Photohaiku

Related tags Sustainable agriculture Local food startups

Responding to the growing demand for locally-grown and sustainable food, startup Healthy PlanEat is working to connect consumers with the farmers who grow their produce via a mobile app.

Healthy PlanEat​ is the brainchild of Rosemary Ostfeld who completed her PhD in Land Economy at the University of Cambridge, and is now based in Connecticut teaching at Wesleyan University in the College of Environment and is 'entrepreneur in residence' at the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. 

"Through my studies, it became pretty clear that our food system has a pretty big impact on our environment and people’s health. One of the most effective things the average person can do to improve their health and the environment is to choose a healthy and sustainable diet,"​ Ostfeld told FoodNavigator-USA.

With the startup's smartphone app, which is in development and whose funding is dependent on the company's Kickstarter campaign​to raise $40,000, users can log on discover local farms near them, see what items are in season, place their order, and arrange for pickup at the farm or local farmer's market.


Building farmer, consumer relationships

Many consumers' connection to local and sustainable food is in small outlets such as seasonal farmers' markets or perhaps a small section of their local grocery store dedicated to local products. According to FMI's Power of Produce report​, more than two-thirds of shoppers periodically purchase produce at farmers’ markets, of whom 69% specifically go to purchase fruits and vegetables.

In addition, most recent data from the USDA​ showed that 163,675 or 7.8% of farms were marketing foods locally, 70% of these farms used direct-to-consumer channels (mainly farmer's markets). According to Ostfeld, the opportunity for farmers to reach more consumers is a largely untapped market. 

"I’m really interested specifically in helping organic farmers sell their food to local buyers. I want farmers to really take control of their inventory and choose what’s best for them,"​ said Ostfeld. 

"On the consumer side, I think there’s so much more that consumers can learn about the impact of their food choices and that’s something I really want to showcase in the app."

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