About six years ago, Roza Ferdowsmakan, an attorney from Arizona, started thinking about how she could make a meaningful difference in the farm-to-table movement.
In the midst of a lengthy divorce, Ferdowsmakan says, she reflected on aspects of her life that she could use as inspiration in a new venture. She had a passion for food and an appreciation for sustainable agriculture. She later fused her enthusiasm for these two things to create an app, Bites | Eat With Your Tribe, which connects its foodie users with nearby chefs who provide home-cooked meals with local ingredients.
Users can rummage through the app’s selection of regional cooks’ profiles, which are based on their cuisine, availability and price. Then, once they find a chef that’s offering something they want, the foodie can reserve a chef by making an initial payment through the app. The chef will come to the foodie’s home with all the necessary ingredients and cook for them there. After the meal, a final payment is charged through the app, which takes a cut.
Chefs set their own prices and are encouraged to use as many local ingredients as possible, as the app promises a farm-to-table experience, Ferdowsmakan says.
“We are simply asking all cooks and chefs for transparency in terms of indicating growers and grocers they buy from,” she says. For now, the app doesn’t penalize chefs for listing certain growers and grocers over others, Ferdowsmakan adds, as she doesn’t want cooks to have to lie about their ingredients.
She built her first version of the app in 2017, which was only accessible in Phoenix, Arizona. Ferdowsmakan eventually revamped that version into the nationwide version that exists today and launched last August.
The app founder says she’s building a search feature into the app that will let eaters and cooks find local growers and hopes to have this tool active in coming months. She says this will make it easier for chefs and foodies to use local products in their recipes. Once the feature is launched, she says, she’ll encourage urban farms, co-ops and community gardens to sign up for the app and create a basic informational tag on an interactive map.
“In order to change the food system and to disrupt the unhealthy bits… it’s important to focus on visibility for local tiny and small growers,” Ferdowsmakan says. “We can accelerate our move away from globalized, commercial food production.”
In addition to building a growers directory into the app, Ferdowsmakan says she’s currently working to increase awareness about the app across the country. Because it’s a new app and she’s based in Arizona, it’s been challenging for it to get exposure in other parts of the country, but she says she’s hopeful.