Real Time Farms: Where Does Your Food Come From?

By: Toni Cunningham | January 24, 2013
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As you ring in the New Year and vow to make more health-conscious choices, your journey to a better lifestyle begins with knowing where your food comes from.

Real Time Farms, an online nationwide food guide, lets you do just that by allowing you to trace your food back to its farm roots. The ultimate goal of the organization, according to Cara Rosaen, Co-Founder & Director of Vegetable Outreach, is to help people find food they can feel good about eating.

“We have never been about prescribing a certain way of eating to anyone—whether that be local, sustainable, organic, or otherwise,” Rosaen said. “Rather, we want to empower people to make their own decisions by providing all the information on the backbone of our food system—our farms, and food artisans.”

Real Time Farms is a crowd-sourced guide, meaning it’s powered by the people, so anyone can add information or photos on farms, food artisans and farmers markets in their area. Since Rosaen and her husband, Karl, launched Real Time Farms in 2010, they have been incredibly well received.

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“We currently have around 5,000 farms and food artisans and over 7,000 farmers markets. We have always focused on the quality of the information—that is, focusing on getting rich information about food sources—(like) growing practices, stories on the growers and images,” Rosaen said.

I tested the site for myself and found that the Ann Arbor Farmers Market features items from over 105 farms and 32 local food artisans. If you’re concerned with exactly how your food is sourced, (i.e. whether organic pesticides and fertilizers are used), you can find that as well.

Recently, Real Time Farms began a partnership with Food52, a crowd-sourced cooking site. Rosaen enjoys working with other organizations, and says she’s excited for the opportunities this new partnership will bring.

“We hope to continue to expand our database of farms, food artisans and farmers markets, and develop innovative ways (in partnership with to both power the guide and empower consumers with the information they need to buy ingredients they trust,” Rosaen said.

Think of it like a family tree for your plate. If you can trace your food back to its roots, you’re more likely to enjoy it with a clear conscience.