I didn’t hear the advice I had for myself. Nope-too much to do on this Monday following one holiday and leading up to the next-deliveries to be made, schedules to design, budgets to draft–and this was the first stop of the day on a crisp and icy central New York morning and it’s time to set the pace. Roll the door up, pull the ramp out and latch it to the bumper-hop on the ramp and half run up it–directly into the door and its accompanying five pound steel latch that had not opened all the way.
“Look up. Slow down. Pay attention!” all came through with crystal hi-res, just-a-second-too-late, white light clarity. Following the requisite expletives and quick personal assessment (no blood, possible whiplash), I laughed out loud and took in the bright, winter sun sparkling off the snowy parking lot and took a moment to reflect on this most recent chapter in this company’s, and my own, life.
Remarkably, unbelievably, Regional Access is entering its 25th year-and doing so in good health and high spirits. And why not? Remember those heady days of your mid-twenties-with enough experience to speak and (occasionally) act with intelligence, bruises and heartaches enough to call wisdom and sufficient energy and bravado to still take on the big stuff? Well that is where Gary’s humble little company finds itself on this New Year’s Eve.
For us, it has been a year of finding stride in our stewardship of his lifework-developing our leadership skills within the company and the communities we work with; defining those things we do and why exactly we do them (or perhaps should stop doing them). We’ve studied and been studied-our thanks to Cornell and the USDA for deeming RA a worthy case study to help develop metrics and measures to define a “food hub” and its impact on local economies. We’ve taken long needed steps to reduce our footprint and improve our efficacy-we have our sights set on zero-waste distribution and have a plan in place to increase our on-road efficiencies by 30% this year.
As the local ‘movement’ grows up, it’s been pretty amazing to witness the shift in perceptions and attitudes toward food. To watch as chefs steer us toward evermore flavorful, healthy and thoughtfully sourced creations, as butchers and the farmers they work with finally get paid a fair price and as lacto-fermented no longer receives the quizzical, eyebrow raising “huh??”, but is properly recognized as the bedrock that the entire borough of Brooklyn is built upon. Relationships are maturing, more than a few of the web portals and farm-serve lists are finding success with their models, and many of our brilliant doctorates, web designers and chemists are churning out some of the best tasting fare around. All in all, we’re eating better, spending more of our hard won dollars locally and challenging convention. This, to my mind, is worth celebrating.
I have to admit that there are many days that it feels as though ours is just a bit-part-an insignificant player in a constant struggle to keep trucks running and full, to keep employees and suppliers paid and to somehow maintain a relevant identity in a rapidly changing landscape. But then, Sysco buys US Foods. I mean, wow…if ever I doubted what we do or challenged the blinding mass emergence of food hubs from every corner, I am once again smacked squarely in the forehead by the obviousness of our collective importance.
So it is to the farm, to the market, to the small herding, micro-croppin’, grass feeding we-give-a-damn about our food and where it comes from folks-that I raise my glass. I, and the entire Regional Access family, wish you the very best and all continued success in the coming year’s (ad)ventures.
Keep fighting the good fight and feeding the people…