GrowCake’s manifesto for creating a Self-Sustaining, HyperLocal Food Production Ecosystem

Written by Riaz Islam, Co-Founder @ GrowCake

Inflation has been hard on people, especially on people with lower and middle income. According to CNBC, over 50% of people have cut back on their food spending last year.

People who have already been struggling now have to pay for $5 gas to make it to work, which is stretching their food budget even further.

In the last 12 months, across America groceries overall got 10% more expensive. Flour jumped 14.2%, milk price rose 13.3%, eggs went up 11.2% and fruits and vegetables went up 8.5%. Bacon prices went up by 18.2%.

To adjust to the new reality, people are finding creative ways to reduce their grocery bill. They are buying smaller sizes, buying off-brand/store brand items, looking at the lower shelves, all cutting back on the produce.

Regardless, this is just going to exacerbate food insecurity across America and add to over 38 million Americans, including 12 million children, who are already food insecure.

GrowCake’s mission is to create sustainable food safety in urban communities by promoting gardening and creating a culture of self-sufficiency.

We will operate in every neighborhood in the U.S. by micro-scaling our network effect across gardeners, fresh grocers, and community focused and climate conscious population

Here is why we believe we can improve food insecurity and help regular Americans reduce their grocery bill during this high inflationary time.

Food supply chain need to be shortened:

The produce that we eat daily has to go through a long supply chain to reach our plates.

Some produce and fruits travel for thousands of miles before reaching our plate. Average transportation distance of some fruits and veggies are,

  • Tomatoes: 1,369 miles
  • Beans: 766 miles
  • Squash: 781 miles
  • Greens: 889 miles
  • Lettuce: 2,055 miles
  • Apples: 1,555 miles
  • Grapes: 2,143 miles
  • Peaches: 1,674 miles

As the cost of gas went up and an ongoing shortage of truckers, transporting produce for thousands of miles has become pricier.

Grocery chains are happily passing this cost to shoppers. The only alternative is that food needs to be grown and sold locally in order to keep the cost low.

We need to increase local food production:

Food supplier market is just too concentrated, giving them unfair power over pricing.

Over the years, large commercial agriculture has cornered the market by putting small family-owned farms out of business.

Right now, 10 percent of large commercial agriculture operations own over 70 percent of cropland in the United States.

Farmlands are constantly getting taken over to build new housing. As demand for food has gone up but farmland is shrinking, food supply is just not enough.

To create a sustained solution, America needs more food supply. As farmland is shrinking, the only alternative is to best utilize all the lands available to us.

Over 30 million people are already using their backyard garden to produce some of their food needs.

More people need to convert their manicured backyard into organic gardens and start growing. We know one thing about gardeners that they like to share with friends and neighbors.

We need to support local economy:

Small-mid size urban areas across America are struggling. Then there is a Dollar store which puts most of the mom and pop grocery stores out of business.

Dollar stores create 2 minimum wage jobs, sell people processed food at cheaper prices and tank the local economy. The money spent there never returns to the already struggling community.

The situation is no better in the large urban areas. More than 13.5 million urban dwellers in the United States live in food deserts.

If things do not change, these communities will suffer from health issues for generations.

We need to create a culture of share:

If one thing is common between all gardeners/growers is that they like to share what they grow.

It gives gardeners great satisfaction of not only growing their own food but also sharing with friends and neighbors. GrowCake wants to make sharing with neighbors easy.

Sharing what we grow with our neighbor not only creates real human interaction across communities, it also provides an alternative to mass produced agriculture.

Neighbors who receive these produce are happy to return the favor by sharing what they are growing, and happy to pay for the fresh and organic produce.

This will create economically self-reliant communities with real human interactions.

Making urban farming a true passive side income:

To deal with the rising cost, many of our friends are getting into side hustles like food delivery, driving, weekend jobs, etc.

From my personal experience, I know for certain that none of these jobs is truly passive.

They need to have a car, diminishing your car’s life and value by driving ridiculous miles and not so much control over your schedule. With rising gas prices, most of these side hustles are not worth it.

Gardening is the true passive activity. Once started, it only needs minimal regular attention.

Even if you don’t have a house or a large backyard, there are plenty of options. Most urban neighborhoods have community garden plots that can be rented at a small cost.

Many cities are quite happy to see vacant lots being used for gardening and may even provide financial help to do so.

Summary: Middle class life is just getting harder and harder. With rising inflation, more and more people are falling below the poverty line and struggling to put food on the table.

Nobody is going to help us other than ourselves. We need to grow our own cake, eat and share it with our neighbors.

GrowCake is a hyperlocal marketplace for urban gardeners to sell & share homegrown produce and connect with their community.

References:

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/05/consumers-squeezed-by-inflation-plan-to-cut-back-if-prices-keep-surging.html

https://cuesa.org/learn/how-far-does-your-food-travel-get-your-plate

https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/13/business/grocery-prices-march/index.html

https://www.thomasnet.com/insights/5-reasons-why-groceries-are-so-expensive-right-now/

https://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/09/16/the-decline-of-the-small-american-family-farm-in-one-chart/

 by the author.

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