In June, New York-based GRACE Communications Foundation launched the EAT WELL GUIDE, an online directory of over 25,000 hand-picked restaurants, farms, farmers’ markets, food co-ops and other purveyors of local, sustainably produced food. The goal of the Guide is to help conscientious food enthusiasts find new options close to home, or lead the way to new local food scenes for those traveling the U.S.
As revealed in a 2014 poll by Cone Communications, 83% of Americans consider sustainability when buying food and 81% would like to see more options that protect the environment. Dawn Brighid, project director of the Eat Well Guide sees this demand embodied in broad market shifts like the explosion of farmers’ markets in the last 20 years– up 370% from 1994 and 123% from 2004.
“People want locally grown, sustainably produced food, so we’re making it easier for them to find it,” said Brighid. “Most American shoppers take into account where their food came from when they’re grocery shopping. They want to support food producers who are doing their best by their customers, their workers and the planet.”
The Guide covers the vast corners of the nation, compiling data that is currently more bi-coastal-heavy than offering depth in diverse Colorado markets. Nevertheless, the Guide does offer twenty curated local city guides, allowing travelers to “eat local, even when you’re not.” A Boulder-specific portal is sensibly among those site-specific guides.
The Boulder corner of the Guide features a colorful early day view of the iconic Flat Irons, shot from the trails of the Colorado Chautauqua Park. From this landing page, conscientious foodies may search 30 local vendors by style of fare (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) or business class (store, restaurant, bed & breakfast) via easy to use search fields. (Be aware however, even from within the Boulder guide, if a location is not set, each search returns results from New York City, by default.)
The vendor listings offer a clean layout providing 50-100 words about the business, including live contact, website, FaceBook and Google-Plus page links, along with an embedded Google map. Convenient features below the map include hours of operation, and nearby listings– useful in case Mateo has a long wait, allowing you find Dish Gourmet and Boxcar Coffee Roasters a short walk away, without needing to move your car!
Few listings include food photos and the descriptive copy could be more colorful to entice casual browsers. Currently, the Boulder guide is less useful as a resource to find undiscovered food havens, as well; the scope of featured local vendors are heavy on the Pearl Street corridor and containing predictable “regulars” like Frasca Food and Wine, Pizzeria Locale, and Zeal. Nevertheless, several businesses along Broadway and the CU environs do appear, as well as a few under-appreciated vendors like Boulder Tamales and Briar Rose Bed & Breakfast. Each listing also contains a button for users to suggest how to improve the descriptions and submit additional listings, so hopefully the Boulder guide can be expected to grow in quality and depth over time.
No matter what one may seek through their online resource though, GRACE assures viewers that in order to be included in the Eat Well Guide, featured vendors must demonstrate a commitment to supporting sustainable agriculture. For conscientious consumers, the Eat Well Guide also eliminates the guessing game and helps you find sustainable food options at home and away.
Check it out, and feel free to submit additional content to improve and expand the listings.