Boulder’s Locavore delivers

Locavore’s Craig Taber with Purdy Farms pigs. (courtesy image)

At last, easy access to locally raised meats.

Ok, we get it: Eating locally produced food is far better for our bodies and the planet. Local fruits and vegetables are fairly easy to come by, but what about fresh, local, humanely raised meat?

That’s where Boulder-based Locavore comes in. The four-year-old company bridges the chasm between local ranchers and consumers, delivering fresh meats and eggs every week to homes from Denver to Longmont.

With just a couple of clicks on Locavore’s website, you can order small quantities of competitively priced meats direct to your door. Every delivery includes peace of mind: you know exactly where your meat came from, what it ate, how it lived, and how far it had to travel to get to your table.

Transparency is important to Locavore’s customers, so founder Craig Taber has spent the last four years diligently researching small family farms and ranches in the region, choosing 13 to be Locavore’s official suppliers.

On the ranch at Sangre's Best Beef (courtesy image)

On the ranch at Sangre’s Best Beef (courtesy image)

Among other products and places, Locavore’s beef comes from Sangre’s Best Grass-Finished Beef in Westcliffe, his pork from Purdy Farms just over the Wyoming border.

“The specialty of these family farms is raising good food. We want them to stay focused on that,” Mr. Taber explains. “Our role is to help them market and sell their products.”

Locavore doesn’t re-brand products the way big grocery stores do. Instead, they let the family farm’s image shine through loud and clear.

That’s important to consumers who are feeling increasingly responsible for knowing where their food comes from, and how it is raised and distributed. Locavore has carefully vetted all of its small-scale suppliers for sustainable farming practices and humane animal treatment, determining that they raise only the highest quality products in the very best ways.

This approach has helped the company grow at a steady, just-right pace, managing a delicate supply-and-demand chain.

“I can’t just call one of these small farms and tell them we need five times as many pork chops in a week,” Mr. Taber says. “We have to grow our customer base concurrently with our suppliers.”

Mr. Taber’s background includes a degree in physics, military service and a nine-year stint with Boulder-based startup Optibike. He takes a long-road approach with Locavore.

“When I got out of the tech world, I left exponential growth behind,” he says. “I wanted to create a company with happy employees, happy farmers and happy customers. Right now we’re doing that really well.”

In the years before launching Locavore, Mr. Taber undertook a frustrating quest to buy local foods. His experiments ran from trying to purchase most of his food at local farmers’ markets (not convenient enough), to sourcing sporadically available local foods at the grocery store (too expensive). He even bought part of a cow “of unknown source and quality” that required half a day to pick up and an entire freezer to store.

“More than once we filled our freezer with hundreds of pounds of locally raised meat that just did not taste very good,” he says. “We paid way too much for it and were never sure of its history.”

Those experiences inspired what has become Locavore today. One of the company’s first Boulder customers was Crossfit Sanitas, the hardcore gym with a bevy of paleo-eating diehards. For these members, Locavore created “paleo packs” – high-quality, locally produced beef, pork, wild boar and fresh eggs in grab-and-go packaging.

Since then the company has marketed itself quietly, growing in a sort of beta mode to ensure its delivery model and product mix are just right.

Today the company’s delivery footprint includes Longmont, Boulder and the Denver beltway. The company offers the only GMO-free pork program in the state of Colorado. A new website and subscription options are on tap.

Good timing. It was 2007 that the New Oxford American Dictionary picked locavore as its word of the year. Ten years before that the concept of organic foods became ubiquitous. Now it’s clear that eating close to home both honors the work of local farmers while building a more sustainable future. We look forward to watching Locavore’s rise.

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