Food Philosophy

What is a "Food Philosophy"?

When everything is available, accessible and within reach, the problem for consumers becomes not one of scarcity but abundance. Every year, companies, large and small, release thousands of new food products to add to the enormous list already available. Amid the glut, how do you find what is right for you? How do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

A Food Philosophy helps us, Harvest Market, separate out, or curate, great products and present them to you, the customer. Customers are asking, who can I trust in helping with my choices? Recommendations allow us to find what we might love (like a matchmaking service), to find inspiration and to fulfill our pragmatic needs without wandering in the aisles. The act of curating is as valuable, one might argue, as the things and products themselves. Isn’t the Google search algorithm a form of curation? Curation is only going to loom larger in our lives as time goes on, and our food options continue to multiply.

The most trusted and effective curation comes from our friends, who recommend new products, recipes, meals, restaurants and sources to us. Personal curation initiates a kind of gift-giving process, as an exchange of information may in turn lead you to recommend something to others in the future.

Components of a Food Philosophy
A food philosophy statement includes a set of principles that explain what guides us, how those guiding ideas affect our decision-making and what outcomes we are aiming for. Whether written down or not, all people and organizations have a philosophy. This Harvest Market Food Philosophy statement will spell out the filters we use to decide on featured products and our guiding belief principles.

Know the Farmer

Whenever possible, we will visit the fields where the product is grown or the source of production—or both. We want to be able to say that we stepped on the soil, smelled the fields and saw the farm first-hand. We toured the manufacturing process or heard the machines and saw the tools at work. Above all, we talked with these people, shook their hands and looked them in the eye. We got to know them and tried to understand what they’re all about.

We will talk to the farmer or the maker of each product featured here.

We vow to: Know The Farmer. Know The Maker. Know The Source

A note of clarification:
To be clear, our Know The Farmer Standard includes a wide range of different steps in the overall process that takes a product from growth or production, through processing and manufacturing, distribution and transportation, and finally to the store shelf and into the homes of our customers. When we state that Harvest Market should Know the Maker, that also means the Processor or Manufacturer, whether it’s The Butcher, The Baker or The Candlestick Maker. Many products have a large number of micro-steps involved in their production. And while we don’t need to meet every single organization or individual involved (e.g. the independent truck driver transporting produce from the fields to the processing plant that makes strawberry jam), we want to know the key players.

Why are we doing this?
Because we feel that real products made by real people are extremely valuable, today more than ever in our mass-produced and mass-processed world. And we know that regular people—our shoppers, and would-be shoppers—want to buy these special and unique products. They want to learn more about and engage with these products and producers.

What are we hoping to accomplish?
We want to turn customers on to new and novel products. We want to support small producers, manufacturers and farmers, and encourage them to keep making great products that we’ll help sell on our shelves. We want to engage our team and internal culture in a common cause and a special reason for what we do here. And of course, we want Harvest Market to be an expert source for unique and authentic products that come from the farm.

Taste the Difference

In the end, the ultimate test for any product that we feature is that it has to taste really great and be of high quality. There’s no use in supporting a local producer or a small batch farmer product if the product doesn’t taste great.

What is great taste? For example, how can we credibly distinguish a good egg from a great egg? Through our Taste-Testing the Farm Difference Process, a team of Harvest Market leaders, chefs and regular folks, including shoppers, vote with their taste buds. And when products make it through that process, they’ll receive our “blue ribbon” seal of approval.

We will determine that featured Harvest Market products taste excellent, and will have received our seal of approval.

Our Maxim: It has to taste better. It has to be better.

Why are we doing this?
It seems like one of the main reasons why we want to connect to the farm and the land is because we believe in a kind of “purity” or real-ness of taste in these products. For example, we want strawberry jam that really resonates with the taste of a great strawberry, not with an artificial sweetener. We want orange juice that smells like it was just picked and squeezed. We want beef with real taste, aroma and texture, never bland or tough.

What are we hoping to accomplish?
We believe in eating well. And we know that our customers want to eat great quality food that tastes great.

Share The Story

Every food product is grown or made somewhere, by someone. What’s the story? How is the product made? We work with producers and growers where the leadership team knows the product and might even make the product. We’re looking for real products made with a real human touch. And of course, this means that there really is a person or group to even talk to about these products.

It is important for our customers to know that the products featured here are hand-picked by the Harvest Market team and that there’s a rigorous curation process happening at Harvest Market. We will share these stories. That also means that the farmers, makers and manufacturers can openly share the stories with us, too.

A critical aspect of the food philosophy is to communicate the food philosophy and how it works. We don’t need to “teach” customers, but we do want to share with them. Sharing is all about turning customers on to new ideas, inspiring them to try new things and occasionally surprising them.

We will share the story about the farmer, the product and the process that brought this food to the shelf.

How does Harvest Market tell a Farmer story?
Ideally, we want to tell the farmer’s story, in their own words. We want to ask these
farmers and producers questions and listen to their answers. This is part of knowing the
farmers/producers and visiting with them, when possible:
• What do you do? What do you make?
• How do you do it? Why do you do it that way? What’s the heritage of the process? What’s the benefit?
• What do people misunderstand about you? What do people misunderstand about farmers, more generally?

In the end, these are all open-ended questions. We’re not trying to put farmers into any
neat categorization, but let them describe things as they see it. The Harvest Market brand is driven by a curiosity and genuine interest in farming, producing and making great food.

Why are we doing this?
We need to show to customers that we care about farmers and that we have a belief system at Harvest Market. We want to give farmers a voice, and let them speak inside the store experience. And we want to continually build relationships with farmers, producers and manufacturers, which will then lead to more connections and a bigger network of suppliers

What are we hoping to accomplish?
It’s not enough to just put the products out and hope that customers will understand. We need to find innovative ways to tell the story of each product, in order to help engage customers. We want to build relationships with consumers, and create a reputation for the Harvest Market brand as a trustworthy editor.