Order your St. Patrick's Day corned beef from Farmers & Artisans, the Williamsville food shop, and they'll throw in a pedigree for free.
The local foods emporium's corned beef is from cattle raised on Niagara County pasture by Librock Farms and cured by North Tonawanda sausage-maker John Kudla. They sold out last year, said store owner David Setzer. "We're not just looking for corned beef," he said. "The key thing is we're bringing those two people together."
In September 2009, Setzer and Julie Blackman opened their store (78 East Spring St., Williamsville, 633-2830) as a haven for locally raised produce, meat and handmade edibles. Blackman's family has operated a Niagara County farm since 1852; Setzer had been selling his bread at the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market since 2007.
Blackman Farms products like fruit butters are on the shelves, along with products from dozens of small local food artisans. So is Setzer's bread, made from organic New York State flour, and that's single-herd Finger Lakes butter in the muffins -- both ingredients about four times more expensive than the mass-produced stuff.
Coming soon at the store: pictures of the farmers and artisans, right next to their products. "We're trying to show that there's people who are benefiting from what they're buying and what they're eating," Setzer said.
Seems like provenance trumps price when it comes to your ingredients.
"Where it comes from, the quality, and the way it's produced is what drives us to pick what we use. Very rarely does that come out the cheapest, I'll put it that way."
Sounds like a tough way to succeed.
"Obviously we need to make a living, and pay our bills. But we're not expecting to get rich. I think we're both smart enough to realize that's not the direction we're headed in. It's more of a purpose-driven thing than a profit motive."
Who are the customers you attract?
"There's foodies who come to buy for the taste and quality. There's people doing it because it's local and they're really intent on supporting local farms, the local food community they want to be a part of it. Another group, they see the reports and read things, and see perceived health benefits. There's some overlap, obviously."
You're even giving would-be producers advice on getting their dream to market.
"We're trying to encourage other artisans who have an idea, but don't have a product. It's as much about encouraging other people as it is doing things ourselves."