Great tasting produce, low food miles and thriving businesses.
I love the local factor. Cooking with fresh local produce where quality and taste is obvious, where the producers receive a good price for their product and businesses working synergistically together is one of my favourite subjects.
Great Food. Great Quality. Great Businesses
Having been raised in a household where vegetables for dinner came from the garden, the range was plentiful; Chinese pak choi, spring onions, marrows, spaghetti melons, strawberries, plums and cherries just to give you an idea. We were spoilt, and when the season was over, crops were set aside for seeds. I distinctly remember rubbing the crispy husks and sieving for seeds, my parents would put them in little brown wage packets, ready for the next season. They were wages for the next year.
This process of foraging and being aware of local, wild herbs and vegetables intrigued me from a young age. Even after local walks in the woods, we were made aware of wild mint, berries and watercress by the streams. My love of food began here.
More recently, I attended a food event at Imperial College called ‘Food for Tomorrow’. One talk which grabbed my attention was about eating locally and sustainably. The talk was given by Giaime Berti from Imperial Business School. I learned about an increasing popularity of food hubs. This is where local farmers supply to the public masses through an intermediary, so receiving a better return for their labour and where customers enjoy the freshness of eating local produce. This covers a combination of different social and environmental factors and also avoids the big waste issue where crops are closer to being ‘harvested to order’. With the increasing ease and convenience of online ordering, this is proving to be a huge win-win solution.
Usually these organisations are either a business, or not for profit organisations, both operate on similar principles, the ordering is placed on line, then the seller agrees a price. The produce is packed and the local farmers get a far better return compared to when supplying to supermarkets. Farmdrop.co.uk was mentioned as a successful business story.
The mission for Farmdrop is to help and create sustainable food systems. It was a business that was ‘crowd funded’ and has been so popular the owner of Zoopla and founder of Skype have both invested in this sustainable food business. Not only are people conscious of flavour and food miles, they are aware of the predicament of food producers livelihoods. Organizations and businesses like these are propelling the way forward. It is estimated that in about ten years’ time, a large portion of grocery shopping will be carried out online. True to their ethos, Farmdrop even have eco-friendly delivery vehicles. I get excited about things like that. Even more exciting, is I have just received my first box of royal warranted steaks straight from an online butchers. I can get used to this way of shopping very quickly!
Until next time…