CropMobster: How To Put Your Local Food System To Its Highest Use

In the developed world, we waste a LOT of food.

In America alone, it’s estimated that up to 40 percent of the post-harvest food supply is discarded, according to The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That represents more than 1,200 calories per day for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. -- just thrown into the trash.

Yet at the same time we have food access issues and nutritional deficits that result in widescale health problems and hunger nationwide, despite having more than enough nutritional calories to go around. Our food system is a mess -- and it doesn’t have to be that way.

In this week's podcast, we talk with Nick Papadopoulos, founder of CropMobster; an innovative company focused on helping communities dramatically improve the potential of their local foodsheds. Nick explains how CropMobster provides a platform that any community can build on to connect local producers with local consumers in ways that boost economic development, reduce wastage of food and other resources, and assist local hunger relievers:

We started with a specific focus on this food waste challenge. We had this idea that we could leverage the existing relationships in the community to prevent, recover, and find a home for food at risk of going to waste -- and then create something valuable out of it; either a sale, a donation, et cetera.

But as we progressed, we saw that folks were using our platform for a lot of other different reasons, too. In a food system, if you think about it as a bicycle wheel and each spoke as a relationship, we started out focusing on the different transactions that could help prevent food waste -- but now it’s evolved to the point where multiple relationships and multiple types of needs are being addressed.

We’ve got sales at full price, donations, trades, bartering, people posting that they have jobs to offer in the local region, people posting that they’re looking for work or they have a service to provide. A lot of folks start their small businesses trying to raise money and do crowd-funding, like a Kickstarter or Indiegogo. But guess what? As a new venture, they have no crowd yet. So they’ll post their crowd-funding offer on our site and we help give them a nudge towards success.

And so, what we’ve teased out are a host of different relationships that happen in every community that are required for a resilient, healthy food system. We’ve evolved to where we can support any one of those types of exchanges, where people can post an alert saying 'here’s what I have' or 'here’s what I need' and then we rally the community not just around the transaction or around the commodity, but inspire enough folks to get involved, share those alerts, and deliver an impact for whomever it is who’s had the guts to make a post on the platform. Usually something good turns out.

At the end of the day, it’s really about helping the people in a community meet their individual needs. This gets to the point of Peak Prosperity and its emphasis on developing resilience. How can we also not only help ourselves, but help others while doing to?

To sum it up, we're really like a Craigslist meets the local community Grange. We really try to equip communities to train and hire local leaders to run these exchanges, so that they're in control to empower their community to strengthen and improve the dynamics in their food system, given their own unique local assets and needs.

Click the play button below to listen to my interview with Nick Papadopoulos (39m:34s).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

The CropMobster deployment in partnership with UC Merced that Nick mentions officially launched days after recording this podcast:

UC Merced is taking steps to fight hunger and tackle food waste on campus and across Merced County. The campus has launched CropMobster Merced County, an online food and agricultural exchange and community engagement program to help address issues ranging from food waste and growing local food economies to food insecurity and resource scarcity. “It’s like an online version of the town square from times past,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies said. “It’s a place where anyone in the community can sell, share, barter and exchange to help each other, and ultimately, help the community.” The online platform, licensed and supported by CropMobster, was introduced in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013 to bring together farmers, producers, hunger relief organizations and community members. The Sacramento region CropMobster exchange started in 2016.
More can be read here

Thank you Nick & Adam!! Our loose-knit local food movement has been searching for something like this. We considered the online farm stores (Local Orbit, Farmigo, etc.) but they were mostly just ordering / shopping cart services. Instead, we’re wanting to build community around local food, and CropMobster looks like a great resource for that.
I appreciate Nick’s practical approach (don’t rush, these things take time, get the key players in the local food community involved…) and the idea that a local exchange could be set up in 3 - 6 months. That’s actually pretty quick!
I have forwarded this podcast and link to the CropMobster site to several local farmers & ranchers, food & farming nonprofits, our farmers market board, and others. If the group is in favor, we’ll be knocking at your door soon, Nick!

Thank you for listening to my interview. A real blessing to have had the chance to connect with the Peak Prosperity community.
Please reach out when you would like to start a conversation with your community.
Thank you and at your service.
Nick Papadopoulos