By Megan Winkler on Jul 4, 2014

Ripe Near Me: Mapping Local Fresh Food

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There’s nothing quite like the addition of fresh fruits or vegetables to a home cooked meal. A juicy, ripe tomato, fresh lemon, crisp cucumber or fragrant basil sprig may be the finishing touch that elevates a meal from ordinary to extraordinary. For some, fresh food is an everyday part of meals, but for others, fresh ingredients are luxuries. After all, it seems like there’s a continual debate over which costs more at a given time: fresh vegetables or meat.

In 2012, Adelaide, Australia, residents Alistair and Helena Martin noticed there were tons of citrus trees in suburban areas full of fruit that nobody touched. What’s more is that these same fruits were being sold in supermarkets right down the street and were often imported from foreign farms. So the pair decided to launch a site that allows anyone and everyone to post food that they grow themselves for sale or donation. Thus, Ripe Near Me was born.

IS FREE FOOD A REALITY?

At first, I was skeptical—it should be noted that Ripe Near Me is in its infant stage, so things are just getting started—but the site is pretty cool. In addition to individual listings from private growers, there’s also plenty of information (in some areas) about edibles that are located on public land. That’s right: free food! The website does a nice job differentiating public and private food sources: public land is open for use by all members of the public or is located in the wild, but a tree that is planted on private property that overhangs public land—such as a sidewalk—is still considered private, so don’t go around stealing other people’s oranges.

There’s not a whole lot of public land around my home that’s planted with citrus or apple trees, but I’m sure there are other parts of the world where this is more common. This Texas girl has always heard about people going apple picking or berry hunting and I still think that’s stuff of fairytales, but what do I know? On that point, what I DO know is that there’s a cool lady right across the street from me who plants herbs and fresh vegetables. She’s posted her edible goods on Ripe Near Me, and what she’s asking for them is miniscule compared to grocery store price tags. Rather than going further down the road to the supermarket, I could send her a message via the site and purchase things like fresh basil, tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh mint (hello mojitos!) directly from her.

THERE ARE BENEFITS TO BUYING LOCAL

Overall, I love the concept. Not only do I save on gas—which is good for the environment—I can also get my hands on some organically grown local produce. Supporting local growers makes a difference on an individual level; it’s not like I’ll be able to affect industry-wide change by just my shopping habits. In the future, I hope we all use services like this more often. The site is up and running and the company is currently hosting a crowd funding initiative via Start Some Good, so if you’re into the concept, be sure to stop by and lend some support. Let me know if you try it out, either as a producer or consumer. I’d love to hear about your experience.

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