Food on a Mission

The founder of Delaware Local Food Exchange promotes local farmers and products in a new Trolley Square space.


Photograph by Joel Plotkin


Karen Igou insists she isn’t a foodie—though she’s surrounded by beautiful produce, grass-fed meats, local honey, jars of artisanal pickles and more. But she is a mom on a mission. “I feed this food to my family,” she says. “I want the best.” After being involved in a food-buying club for four years, Igou started the Delaware Local Food Exchange in 2010 in the Nature’s Way in Elsmere as a way to support local farmers and make organic and pesticide-free products available to the public. Early in July, she moved her commodities to a 900-square-foot storefront in Wilmington (8A Trolley Square, 407-5579, www.delocalfoodexchange.com) to accommodate the growing enterprise. “It’s not a produce stand,” she explains. “It’s basically a local grocery store.”

On a recent day, Bill Powers of Powers Farm in Townsend was making his regular delivery of eggs. “This helps the farmers sells their products,” he says. “It’s great working with her.” In the store, Igou, who now has a business partner, Sheila Papa, keeps loose produce in baskets and has refillable honey stations and large bins of flour, which reduce packaging and waste by allowing customers to fill their own containers. That’s part of Igou’s objective, too. “I’m trying to help people be more self-reliant,” says the cheerful proprietor. “I began by educating myself and buying food in a cleaner way.”

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