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How local veg schemes are good for your pocket and your planet

A new report shows that local veg schemes, like the Better Food Traders, who sell food from climate-friendly farmers generate significant value for the people that eat the food, grow the food and the environment.

For every £1 spent buying organic food through a veg scheme almost £3 more is generated in benefits to customers, farmers, citizens and the planet.

The report was written by thinktank the New Economics Foundation in collaboration with organic certification body Soil Association based on interviews with customers, farmers and staff of the Better Food Trader Growing Communities, which runs an organic fruit and veg scheme and farmers’ market in Hackney, London. Results were then measured against national indicators of health and wellbeing as well as environmental measures such as wildlife, biodiversity and soil health.

Growing Communities is one of a growing network of Better Food Traders, a group of retailers that adhere to strict principles about how the food they sell is sourced and sold: paying fair prices to local sustainable farmers; keeping supply chains short; and encouraging people to eat less meat and processed food and more fresh fruit and veg.

The report concludes that selling food this way offers customers a “competitive and attractive product that generates multiple benefits for customers” in terms of improved health and wellbeing and reduced food waste.

“This study shows that Better Food Traders are delivering on all the elements we want from a good food and farming system,” said GC director Julie Brown.

“Decent and healthy food for all (fresh, seasonal and mainly plant-based); nature-friendly food production; and engaged and empowered citizens willing and able to feed themselves.

“I’d argue that the Better Food Traders do this a lot better than the supermarket-driven system, which is currently failing to deliver on those things.”

The report found that buying food through a local veg scheme has many benefits:

  • Customers eat more fresh, seasonal produce and less processed food than they did before and they feel healthier.
  • Customers waste less food by cooking from scratch and becoming more adventurous cooks.
  • Customers feel more involved with their community.
  • Buying organic food has a positive impact on wildlife, biodiversity and soil health.
  • The food produces fewer greenhouse gases in production and distribution.
  • Buying seasonal and wonky food cuts food waste on farms.
  • It allows local farmers and their workers to survive and thrive.
  • It creates secure, local, Living-Wage jobs.

Natasha Soares, Project Lead of Better Food Traders added:

“This report shows how successful the Better Food Trader model is – a better way than the current food system, dominated by 5 corporations who put profits before our communities, land, air and water. We’ve always believed we can feed people with good food whilst supporting sustainable food and farming – the report now underlines the value we’ve been creating.”

To read the report An Evaluation of Growing Communities in full, visit https://neweconomics.org/section/publications

Find your local Better Food Trader with our handy map: https://betterfoodtraders.org/find-a-better-food-trader/

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