One of the many side effects of the current pandemic has been an extraordinary surge in demand for veg box schemes across the country. Like every local food business in the UK, Better Food Trader veg box schemes worked flat out to meet a never-before-seen demand from customers.
Conrad from Kentish Town Vegbox, an accredited Better Food Trader, tells us “We have seen a huge increase in sign ups for the scheme with members growing from around 240 in early March to around 440 at the start of June. It’s been a huge privilege to be able to deliver food to our community during these uncertain times.”
It suddenly felt possible that this disastrous pandemic might throw light on what really matters – that people would start to see through the current destructive food system; one that offers many UK citizens plentiful, relatively cheap food but at enormous cost to the environment and communities around the world.
Local food initiatives provide more than just fresh, low-carbon produce. They encourage local supply and production, healthier eating, make better quality food more affordable, and bring people together.
But as life slowly goes back to normal and people stop buying in pandemic-mode, it seems local businesses – who worked so hard to provide for their local communities in the crisis – are losing their customers to old habits.
Unfortunately some Better Food Traders are already seeing people drop out of veg box schemes. It would appear the lure of supermarket delivery slots and out-of-season produce on-demand is too strong for some.
It’s true, small veg schemes can’t always do delivery slots, nor offer huge amounts of choice at low prices. The carrots are nearly always filthy and you have to eat with the seasons. Perhaps something that is nice in principle feels restrictive when we are so accustomed to endless options?
Better Food Traders say: now is the time to stay! By supporting local food businesses and learning to eat with the seasons, we suddenly start to see the value in every filthy carrot. That carrot represents a farming system that makes sure workers are paid fairly whilst looking after the planet, protecting our soil and minimising greenhouse gas emissions.
All indications are that things won’t return to normal quickly but when they do, remember to commit to a better food system. If you can continue to support local, ethical retailers and farmers you are supporting change.