Living in London, I am spoilt for choice on where to buy food or where to dine out, and being the big foodie that I am, I love to bring friends and family together over a great meal. Unfortunately, our fast-paced lives often limit us to fast food meals or takeaways in front of the laptop. Additionally, when purchasing food, we naturally draw attention to low prices and discounts and expect all fruits and vegetables to be clean and uniform. But when we reach out for the greenest glossy apple, do we ever stop to wonder where it came from before the supermarket aisle? This routine of directing ourselves towards cheap and convenient food can easily be adopted to the point where food has diverged from a celebration to an unhealthy habit.
Fortunately, people are developing more conscious as consumers and demand more organic food and product transparency. While this is a big stepping stone in the food industry, organic is often mistaken for sustainable. Purchasing certified organic food can assure that it’s free from harmful chemicals and thus a healthier option, however, their approach to farming can still be unethical and harmful to the environment. Sustainable agriculture is a philosophy that feeds the soil instead of the plant. In addition to avoiding fertilizers and pesticides, sustainable farming techniques ensure that water and energy are efficient, energy is renewable, and that the overall production of food is protective of the environment. These principles allow for a prospered estate that will sustain throughout the seasons and produce healthy food for both consumers and the environment.
This leads us to Growing Communities, a British organization that aims to change people’s relationship with food and revolutionize the food and farming system for the better. They provide full transparency on their sustainable supply chain through the highest standards and well-being, with everything grown in an ethical and ecological manner. Once the food is harvested, sustainability preserves through to the packaging and food miles, ensuring an overall low impact and low carbon from start to finish.
Putting passion before profit, Growing Communities doesn’t work to compete against big food corporations, but seeks to inspire alliance and help achieve more local markets on a global scale. They are working with the closest plantations outside of London to guarantee a shorter supply chain amongst urban communities, which supports ongoing localized and sustainable movement. With an increase in growing sites throughout North and East London, citizens can now adopt a fruit and vegetable box scheme, where you can collect a weekly box of healthy seasonal food from your nearest distribution point at an affordable price.
Growing Communities also organizes a food market every Saturday where farmers get together and sell their local produce. The first time I stopped by the market, I instantly fell in love with the energy and passion that stems from such a close-knit gathering. The suppliers don’t push to sell their products, but simply invite friendly converse, share their farming stories, and insist that you try their favourite goods. So next time you reach for those “perfect” shiny apples at the supermarket, take a trip to the local market instead and grab the mismatched earthy apples filled with pure flavour and nutrients.
For over 20 years, Growing Communities has continuously worked towards changing the wider food system as a strong constructive force. The system allows for people to embrace a seasonal diet and celebrate food in a more organic manner. Wherever you are in the world, discovering a local market is a great way to introduce yourself to the culture and vitality of your surroundings. Spark interest about their produce, connect with the natives, and support their sustainable food system. Together, we can shift humanity’s attitude towards nature and build a more profound understanding and appreciation of our food. Happy food, happy mood 🙂 Bon appétit!
Hi Lucy – what a brilliant piece! So glad you enjoyed your visits to the market and that you “get” what Growing Communities is striving to do. Just wanted to point out that organic standards in the UK, as set by the Soil Association (https://www.soilassociation.org/), Organic Farmers & Growers (http://ofgorganic.org/) and others, are among the highest in the world. And they are absolutely about sustainable farming – protecting the soil, encouraging biodiversity, maintaining the highest animal welfare standards and ensuring there will still be productive farmland for generations to come. In fact, organic certification guarantees that the farmers are meeting the highest sustainability standards, whereas the term “sustainable” has no agreed definition and no agreed criteria to assess it by. Both terms describe the way food and farming should be moving, but we believe “organic” is the more measurable and therefore the more trustworthy of the two terms. That’s why we ask all the farmers at our market to be organically certified – so all our customers can be certain that the highest standards are being met. Hope to see you there again soon!