“A local, decentralised food system isn’t just good for consumers – it’s got big benefits for farmers and our environment as well.”
During the last year, more of us have turned to community support groups and local food provision:
Local community support through food – Vision Group for Sidmouth
The New Economics Foundation looks at the ideas and issues by way of a visit to Hackney:
COMMUNITY FOOD SYSTEMS SHOULD BE PART OF THE NEW NORMAL – HERE’S WHY
A local, decentralised food system isn’t just good for consumers – it’s got big benefits for farmers and our environment as well
With last year’s long queues and supply issues at supermarkets, the Covid pandemic has made us all re-examine how we get our groceries and where they come from. But even before Covid-19, the failures of the current system were clear to see. Inadequate access to healthy diets contribute to one in seven deaths in Great Britain. Diet-related chronic disease accounts for £6.1bn of annual NHS spending (around 9%) and generates a wider economic loss of more than £54bn a year (that’s 3% of UK GDP).
At the same time, the way we produce our food relies on industrial production techniques and monocultures. It uses unsustainable amounts of water, depletes wildlife, and pumps greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. The damage of our food system has risen to such critical levels that estimates suggest that for every £1 UK consumers spend on food, it costs global society the same amount in environmental and social costs from antibiotic resistance to damaged ecosystems.
At NEF, we’ve recently worked with the Soil Association to assess one possible alternative to our broken food system. Growing Communities is a community food distributer in north London which runs a subscription-based vegetable scheme and a weekly farmers market. Customers can collect their weekly veg bags from distribution points, which include local businesses and community venues. Growing Communities only source seasonal, agroecological produce (that means produce which is grown using techniques which work with ecosystems, rather than against them) and they purchase from suppliers close by before looking further afield.
Community food systems should be part of the new normal – here’s why | New Economics Foundation
With more about the group here:
Growing Communities | Hackney’s farmers’ market and organic veg scheme
Growing Communities – Better Food Traders
Growing Communities: manual of monitoring and evaluation | Sustain
Growing Communities’s Page – Sustainable Hackney