A Brief Introduction to Finding What You Want
Two Options: Browsing the Map & Searching with the Search Bar
There are two ‘quick-fire’ searches that can be used to find local organic food and community (depending on whether you are seeking a particular enterprise/group or just want to see what is on the map) and two more thorough searches, which can be better targeted, either geographically or in terms of what specifically is being sought. These options are all set out in detail below, but basically browsing the map is a more direct (and visual) way of finding listings in a particular location – and also the best way for a quick-start introduction to locating local listings; click on the ‘expand map’ icon in the top left corner of the map to make it larger – it looks like this:
The SEARCH BAR & advanced search function, on the other hand (see below), enables you to find and filter listing based upon more specific details than are apparent on the map, such as specialist types of produce (e.g., charcuterie), niche services (e.g., accommodation catering for vegetarians) or level of assurance sought (e.g., Certified Organic). Advanced Search is conducted using the Search Bar, with different options available depending on what is being searched for (e.g. Producers, Accommodation, Restaurants and Bars) Each of the two methods (Browsing and Search Bar) also makes use of ‘geolocation‘, which is a method of identifying where you are currently located in order to provide information about listings that are local to you. Whichever method you use to locate listings, once you have found one you would like to visit (if they are currently accepting visitors!) then you can easily get directions from their directory listing.
More detail on all this is provided below – but for a quick start just go straight to the map and start exploring, although maybe read these tips first:
Quick-Start Tips to Find Local Organic Food
You can navigate the map just as you would any other Google™ map, using the zoom-in and zoom-out buttons (+ and -) and dragging the map on your screen; to select a category other than Eateries & Drinkeries (restaurants, pubs, cafés, etc) which is the default map, click on one of the other tabs at the bottom of the map (e.g., Producers, Retailers or Accommodation) – the current map tab is highlighted in yellow; each category map lists a range of subcategories (such as Fruit, Vegetables, Meat for Producers) than can be (de)selected by clicking on the appropriate boxes listed at the bottom-right of the map, thereby determining which listings are displayed on the map – at the top this sub-category list is a small search box into which you can put the name of a particular listing you are looking for (on that map – i.e., you can only search one of Producers, Eateries/Watering Holes etc. at a time from the search box on the map – to search another listing-type map, select it from the tabs at the bottom of the map – alternatively, use the Sitewide Search button on the home page if you know the name of the listing you are seeking). Once you have located a listing on the map, clicking on it will bring up the listing details where you can find further information depending on the type of listing (click on the name in the pop-up box), including the option of getting directions (from the Map tab of the listing details). All quick ways to find local organic food.
The Two ‘Quick-Fire‘ Searches
If You Know the NAME of the Enterprise (or a keyword)
If you know the name of a producer/retailer/restaurant/hotel (or group) etc. (or want to search using a keyword) and you just want to quickly find it if it is in the directory, just type the name into the Site-Wide Search box (on most pages in the sidebar on the right), press enter, and see what comes up! Be aware though, that if you type a location name (e.g, Bristol) the search function does not include address fields of listings: you will not get a results list of all listings in any Bristol around the world – you will only find listings with ‘Bristol’ in the title or description/other details. Having said that, you may get more than one listing for a given enterprise – for instance, a smallholding might have a listing as a vegetable producer on the Producer Map, a listing for veg-boxes on the Alternative Buying Schemes Map and it might be picked up in the details for a Farmers Market on the Retailers Map. When you consider that multiple-location listings such as Box/Bag Schemes and Mobile Cafés/Retailers may have many listings, then be prepared to pick up a whole list of veg-box collection points or mobile catering van stops if what you type in has enough hits! It is for that reason that unless you are sure you know the correct name of a listing/enterprise then it is better to spend a little more time (not a lot) to either selectively browse the map or do a more thorough search (see below).
If You know The TYPE of Listing You Are Searching For
If you just want to go quickly to a list of all organic chocolate producers, for instance, and then see which of these are close to you, then just click on the appropriate category in the Go To Listings sidebar area (on the right of some pages – look to your right now!). If the directory contains a lot of listings in the category of your choice, however (as I hope it will!), then you may want to do a little more work to refine your search.It's easy to find Local Organic Food at LoopyFood.net - why not give it a go?! Click To Tweet
The Two More Thorough Searches
These more thorough approaches allow you to narrow down your search according to geographical area and/or what precisely you are looking for (e.g., an organic fried breakfast in or near York). Which approach you first use to find local organic food will depend what you are most interested in: how close the listing/enterprise is to your current (or another specified) location or what specifically you are looking for. To get a good ideas of what is available near to you, it is easier to browse the map, described next; to focus in on a particular aspect of what you are looking for it is better to use the advanced search function, described below.
Browsing The Map to Find Local Organic Food
Most people find a map most useful when they want to find local organic food. When you navigate to the Directory Map page (it’s available via the top menu of every page) you will see a Google™ map in a central position – for a quick-start guide to using this, see above – otherwise, read on …
Go straight to the Map now to start browsing, or carry on reading.
Not One Map but Many!
The first thing to be aware of is that there is not one map, but several: one each for a number of main categories of directory listing – such as Producers (e.g., smallholders, cheesemakes), Retailers (e.g., Greengrocers, Butchers, Wholefood Stores), Alternative Buying Schemes (e.g., box schemes, Community Supported Agriculture, Food Hubs), Accommodation (e.g., hotels, campsites, farmstays), Eateries & Watering Holes (e.g., restaurants and pubs/bars respectively) and many more – see here for details. Each of these maps, for different types of listing, is accessible by clicking the tabs along the bottom of the map on the Directory page of the directory; the map can only display one type of listing at any one time, and the current map has its tab highlighted in yellow – this is to allow the system to be easy to use for focussed searching and to provide maps that are not too cluttered. Some enterprises may have listings on several of the directory maps (e.g., a hotel that has a restaurant and a bar opened to the public might be found on both the Accommodation and Eatery/Watering Hole maps – if they also sell jam or sausages produced from their own ingredients then they might have a listing on the Producer map). By default, e.g. when landing on or navigating to the Directory page, the Eateries/Drinkeries map will be shown. As you can see then, there are many options when you want to find local organic food!
Listings for events are handled in a slightly different way, reflecting the fact that they are time-limited. Although all events in the directory are displayed on the Events map (one of the category tabs at the bottom of the map), it is recommended that a Search is conducted (see below) if there is a wish to sort events by ‘today’, upcoming’, ‘past’ or ‘all’ (it is hoped that in the future there will be the option to display events on the map according to these categories without having first conducted a search).
Browsing the Map
Once you have selected the map that is relevant for what you are looking for (whether a joint of local organic beef, a local gardening group or a bed for night where you can enjoy a organic breakfast), then you can start browsing the map to see what is available near to your location – or one that you will be visiting. It is just the same as browsing any Google™ map, with the ability to drag the map around, zoom in and out, or switch to satellite view. You can expand the map to fill the whole of the page by clicking on the ‘expand map’ icon – see above. You will see marker icons on the map that correspond to directory listings – on some category maps the colour or design of the icon markers may vary according to the to the sub-category of listing (e.g. on the Accommodation map, camping accommodation is identified by an icon with a tent-shape on it).
Each category (e.g., Eateries/Drinkeries) is further divided into sub-categories (e.g., Restaurants, Delis, Bars, Cafes). By clicking on the relevant box in the map key in the bottom right of the map it is possible to select which sub-categories are displayed on the map at any one time. This allows for more focused browsing of the map when you want to find local organic food. .
The Geolocation Pulsing Blue Beacon
If you are ‘geolocated’ then LoopyFood.net knows your current location and this is shown on the map as a pulsing blue beacon, allowing you to visually see the relative location of nearby listings – maybe the best way to find local organic food! For more details of geolocation, see here.
The SEARCH BAR & Advanced Search of the Directory
For more advanced searching, the SEARCH BAR appears on the Directory page immediately below the map of listings. It has three boxes for making search selections and an orange search button and an orange button for selecting Advance Search options (some pages also have a search box on the right sidebar; although in a more compact form, this works in a similar manner to the search bar on the Directory page).
The first box in the Search Bar contains a drop-down list from which you can select one of the map categories (e.g., Producers, Accommodation, Retailers) – make sure that you select the appropriate category for they type of listing you want to find (the category selected in the search bar does not follow and match the category tab selected on the map that is currently displayed!). The second box allows you the option of typing in a particular word or phrase – which doesn’t have to be food-related; for instance, putting in ‘willow’ will locate listings containing that word in the listing details. The third box allows you to select a location – you can type in a postcode/zip code, city, region or country, and an auto-completion list of candidate places will appear enabling you to select the correct location (if your desired location does not appear then check your spelling; if the spelling is correct but the place doesn’t appear as an auto-suggestion then maybe there are no listings at this place – although it is worth browsing the map in case the person entering the listing used a different place address). When you specify a location (e.g., postcode, town) in this box, the search results are ordered according to distance from you (with featured listings first, followed by other listings). This third box also contains the geolocation compass indicator – if geolocation is on, indicated by a blue compass and a pulsing blue beacon on the map, then instead of selecting a location in this box, you have the option of selecting a maximum distance from your location for listings to be included in your search results (click on the compass icon to set this distance in miles). Pressing the Search button once you have made your selection will take you to the search results page (see below).
Customizing Your Search
The Advanced Search Options button allows you to select further criteria to narrow down your search using filters that vary according to the category that you are searching. For instance, when searching producers you are able to select for only producers of certified (organic or biodynamic) food. Remember, you are only searching the one directory category at a time (Producer, Retailer etc. – as selected in the first box of the Search Bar) – but this option allows you to be very specific when you want to find local organic food.
The Geolocation Compass/Indicator
The compass icon that sits on the right hand side of the third (location) box of the search bar shows (and enables you to select) geolocation status. Geolocation refers to the ability for LoopyFood.net to ascertain your current location and display it on the map as a pulsing blue beacon – a very useful tool if you want to find local organic food near you. If Geolocation is on the compass icon will turn blue, and a the map will show a pulsing blue beacon to indicate your location. When turning geolocation on you are also able to set a distance (in miles) from your current location that LoopyFood.net will use to include results in your search. If you want the map to display all relevant listings, no matter how far they are from you, then turn geolocation off.
Getting a Blank Map from a Search
If you run a search and get a blank map then first ensure that in the third (location) box of the Search Bar you have selected one of the offered locations – LoopyFood.net sometimes has problems recognizing manually-typed location names – please accept the auto-suggestion for the place that you wish to search.
Alternatively, there may be no listings with that word or phrase in the area that you selected. In order to find listings in your next search attempt you might try more general variations of search words (e.g., ‘dairy’ instead of ‘cheese’) for the same location, or widening the search area (e.g., Devon instead of Exeter) – or else you may wish to adjust or remove any filters that you have set using the Customize My Search button.
If geolocation is not functioning for any reason, including problems with identification of your web host server or the internet, then this might also lead to blank pages on searches using the ‘near me’ function; in such cases you might not be able to see the pulsing blue beacon on the map, or it might be in the wrong location, and it is better to switch geolocation off using the compass icon controls – instead, find local organic food by using searches or browsing the map.
The Search Results Page
As long as your search has found appropriate listings they will be displayed as either a list or in a grid format (your choice), with featured listings at the top. A map with clickable marker icons for each of the found listings will be shown on the right (if you have been geolocated then the map will include your flashing blue beacon so that you can see which results are nearest to you).
Clicking on a listing or one of the map icons will take you to that listing’s details. Go straight to the Map now to find local organic food, or carry on reading.
Whether browsing the map or searching the directory you will at some point find a listing that you will want to investiga te. If browsing the map (either the main Directory page map or that which appears at the top of search results), clicking on a listing marker icon will in the first instance display a small pop-up window that gives the name of the listing along with address and contact details, as well as a few other small icons (e.g., allowing you to mark the listings as a ‘favourite’).
Clicking on the listing name (or photo, if one is present – an option for full/premium listings) will take you to the listing detail page.
If it is a free basic business listing then the only details available will be address, along with a tab that will show a small map of the location, with the option to get directions by inputting a starting location. As well as these basic details, full and premium listings contain much more information than basic listings – e.g., full description, telephone number, photographs, overviews of products offered and production techniques, details of current special offers, opening hours, website and email addresses, as well as other details that the listing owner has decided to include. NB, many directory categories (such as Groups and Communities, free-entry Events, Education and Training Centres) offer full listings for free!
OK – so you can find local organic food on the map, but how do you get there?! Because it is a map-based directory, LoopyFood.net can provide you with directions to any listings that you are interested in – either from your current location (whether or not you have been ‘geolocated‘) or from another location that you may wish to specify. Directions are available on the ‘Map’ tab when looking at a particular listing’s details.
Home and Away
The fact that this is a map-based directory means that in addition to serving your needs at home, LoopyFood.net can help you find local organic food in other places, e.g., when planning your travels – whether that be a trip of a few hours to visit friends, or a holiday further afield. Not only can the directory display places to stay and eat at your destination – it can help you make the most of the opportunities that arise en-route! Collect those organic eggs and bacon on the way to your weekend camping trip; that organic chocolate cake on the way to your friend’s birthday; or on the way back from the airport why not stop off at the farm you’ve been meaning to get to someday and pick up a selection of biodynamic treats?!
If you have got this far, well done! You know what to do when you next want to find local organic food:
Go straight to the Map now to find local organic food!