In recent years, the farm-to-table movement has been sweeping the country, and Alabama has been no exception. People from all over are asking for more locally sourced foods, and the supply has grown to meet the demand.
Alabama Gulf Seafood has been a big part of this movement. And Alabama MarketMaker has been a big part of the movement’s success.
MarketMaker is a free resource for farmers, fisheries, and other producers that connects fresh, local foods to anyone looking for them. Their website houses a database for all participating states so that consumers can track down specific products in their area.
Twenty states have joined MarketMaker thus far, including all five Gulf Coast states. Needless to say, Gulf Seafood is a big part of MarketMaker’s success.
Alabama joined MarketMaker in 2010, thanks to funding from the Gulf State Marine Fisheries Commission. Ever since joining the program, Alabama Gulf Seafood’s MarketMaker presence has helped to create awareness for other locally sourced foods, and vice versa, for famous restaurateurs and amateur foodies alike.
“We’re another tool in the toolbox for the industry to use how they see fit,” said Bethany Walton, outreach coordinator for Alabama MarketMaker. “We’re just trying to complement the ASMC’s efforts however we can and offer another service for consumers to source local Alabama seafood.”
As of this year, Walton estimates that there are close to 200-250 processors, wholesalers and retailers listed in Alabama MarketMaker as a way to also help promote Alabama Gulf Seafood.
For those in Alabama’s seafood industry, MarketMaker provides business listings free of charge. Unlike some databases of this sort, though, MarketMaker has people working year-round to help strengthen these connections through conferences, workshops and other efforts.
“That’s why I feel like we stand out,” said Walton. “Because there are people behind it and promoting it.”
For consumers, MarketMaker is just as helpful. Anyone looking for fresh seafood in their city or county can use the website’s search engine. A mobile site is available for smart phone users as well.
This “fishery-to-table” movement has made an impact on the Alabama Gulf Seafood industry, which already has a huge economic impact on the state. But as Walton points out, the heart of the MarketMaker program is pride in our community—and the products that come from it.
“We’re trying to connect people however we can,” said Walton. “If it’s food, fantastic, and if it’s seafood, even better.”