Fair Food was founded in 2001 by Philadelphia entrepreneur, Judy Wicks, to build a sustainable and humane local food economy by spreading the local purchasing practices of her restaurant, White Dog Cafe. Ann Karlen, founding director of Fair Food, began her work by connecting the local farms supplying the White Dog to a larger marketplace of restaurants and stores, while continually bringing in new farmers. With humble beginnings, Ann ran Fair Food for the first four years from an office in Judy’s house, with financial support from the White Dog Cafe and its customers, many other generous individuals, and private foundations. White Dog Community Enterprises, the non-profit affiliate of the business, provided an institutional home and services to Fair Food until it spun off as an independent organization in 2009. Fair Food started with the narrow focus of connecting farmers and chefs as a strategy for keeping more farmland in production, and now works with a broad range of buyers, as well as hundreds of producers, from the small-scale diversified farmer to midsize growers who supply colleges, hospitals, and other institutions.
Over the past ten years, Fair Food has built demand for local food across all sectors of the food system. Along with our partners in the field, we have established what has become a paradigm shift in the public’s perception about what we eat, how it is produced, where, and by whom it is grown.