Tapping into food trends

Are you producing organic herbs, fresh farm eggs or natural smoked bacon and need a way to sell, market and distribute your products? If so, Growing Synergy Foods, a wholesale and retail distribution company that champions locally grown and independently crafted foods, might be your answer.

Growing Synergy Foods works with farmers and artisans alike to help move their products into the hands of the consumer. "We essentially let the farmers do what they do best, and we handle the sales, marketing and distribution on their behalf," said Rebecca Reis-Miller, co-Founder and CEO of Growing Synergy Foods.

The product marketing includes events such as on-farm breakfasts, food tastings, fruit and vegetable pickings, and other special activities, including those designed to educate the consumer. The products themselves ultimately find their way into farmers' markets, health food stores and cooperatives, and restaurants.

Growing Synergy Foods concentrates on central, south and west Florida markets, and they've recently added a new distribution facility in Winter Garden. Also, new to the roster is a new out-of-state farm: Nature's Harmony Farm, a producer of artisan cheeses, located in Elberton, Ga. Considering that Growing Synergy Foods was founded in 2011, starting with consultation services, you could say they are growing like weeds.

What else is growing is the amount of local foods that are currently on the company's product list, such as: honeycomb squares, organic lemon basil, organic cherry juice, and grass fed beef tenderloin. Their product list is ever growing as is the local food movement that started it all - a movement that was set in place by consumers who want to know who grew or created their food, and where their food came from.

"The consumers in essence are demanding to know where their food is coming from," said Reis-Miller, who explained that this movement is also shaping the menus of the foodservice industry as more chefs embrace biodiversity with their selection of unique fruit and vegetable offerings, such as graffiti and Romanesco cauliflower, and purple dragon carrots.

Both Reis-Miller, and Managing Partner Trisha Strawn, have been involved in marketing, public relations and other business aspects of the food industry for many years before evolving into Growing Synergy Foods. The two met through the local chapter of the international food sustainability organization, Slow Food, and soon realized they had a similar passion for local foods and in marketing them.

Unlike some new businesses that are starting from scratch, the company's relationships with farmers and artisans was formed over a period of time and in a number of ways. "Since Trish and I have been involved with Slow Food and other food sustainability organizations over the years, we had already developed relationships with many of our farms," said Reis-Miller. In addition to the relationships they have already have developed, they also have chef/customer requests to work with specific farms, as well as farmers and artisans that approach them directly.

The range of farm types that Growing Synergy Foods works with is as broad as the list of products they help promote, such as beef, dairy, gifts, lamb, poultry, produce, sausage and more.

Some of the farms they work with have a long family history in agriculture, such as the 40-acre Tomazin Farms (The Barefoot Farmer), located in Samsula, and established in 1915, while others are young start-up farms such as the one-acre Harvest Moon Farm in Ocoee. Both Tomazin Farms and Harvest Moon Farms are producers of locally grown vegetables and more.

Growing Synergy Foods knows their products well, and works to pass their knowledge onto the consumer. "Our goal from the very beginning has been transparency - it is very important to us to source identify all of the food that we sell," said Reis-Miller. In order to help address this goal, they offer education. One example is that the Growing Synergy Foods invites the restaurant owners and other staff to the farms and processing facilities that they represent. They also offer an education blog: http://growingsynergy.com/blog/.

The food trend now is for a focus on local meats and seafood, local produce and environmental sustainability. According to AgWeek, "Sales from food produced using these principals have grown 20 percent per year over the past decade and now reach nearly $11 billion nationwide." Furthermore, the National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot" culinary forecast, predicts that locally sourced meat and seafood will be the top trend for 2014.

Speaking of hot trends, a new hot sauce is about to make its way to the product list at Growing Synergy Foods. Fat Cat Foods is getting ready to launch a new Sriracha sauce, and they recently launched a hot sauce to include the scorpion pepper, a pepper that was recently named as the world's hottest pepper. "

Our artisans also tend to follow trends," said Reis-Miller.

For more Information:

Growing Synergy Foods Online

3218 E Colonial Dr. Ste G. Orlando


Rebecca Reis-Miller, Co-Founder and CEO



Trisha Strawn, Managing Partner




Images Courtesy of: Growing Synergy

BF Cauliflower.JPG- Barefoot Farmer assorted Cauliflower (white, graffiti and cheddar)

R&T at Dales: Growing Synergy founders Rebecca Reis-Miller & Trisha Strawn

IMG_2906: GreenH20use (Apopka, FL) hydroponic tower gardens

DSCN3392.JPG: Guests at our event "Breakfast in the Pasture" at Lake Meadow Naturals