One of the many knock on effects of the health pandemic has been an extraordinary surge in demand for veg box schemes across the UK. Like many other local food business in the UK, Better Food Trader veg box schemes worked tirelessly to meet an unprecedented demand from customers.  A fellow scheme in North London, Kentish Town Vegbox, also an accredited Better Food Trader, shared, “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 situation might throw light on more far-reaching topics - that people would start to see through the established, destructive food system; a system that offers many UK citizens plentiful, relatively cheap food, but at an 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, and make better quality food more affordable, while bringing people together.

Now, as life slowly goes back to normal and people move away from panic mode, many local businesses – that worked so hard to provide for their local communities in the crisis - are losing their customers to old habits. Unfortunately, this includes veg boxes. Some Better Food Traders are already seeing people drop out of their schemes, as the lure of supermarket delivery slots and out-of-season produce on-demand is too strong for some. It is true – small veg schemes can’t always do delivery slots, nor offer huge amounts of choice at low prices, especially in the hungry gap. 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? 

Local Greens and all the 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. By committing to an ethical food provider, you are doing the planet and your local community a massive favour, all whilst prioritising healthy food for you and your family.

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. Accredited Better Food Traders, such as Local Greens, sell organic, fresh, delicious veg. We put our farmers, communities and the planet first, and value fair pay, lower pollution, and seasonal, healthy food for everyone. 

At some point, you might be tempted to go back to the food system as you knew it – avocados on demand and sparkling clean carrots. While conventional shops may sell convenient food, but do you know the inner workings of your providers? Does the shop pay its workers and those in its supply chain a living wage? Are their products helping or harming the environment? When you commit to a Better Food Trader, you can rest easy knowing that we align with a robust set of principles covering everything from how the produce is grown, to how much the farmers and staff are paid, to the environmental impact. If you continue to support local, ethical retailers and farmers you are supporting change. Let's all commit to a better food system.  

Better Food Traders Principles:

  1. Mission driven, trading for social purpose, not to maximize profit
  2. Building supply chain transparency, trust and cooperation
  3. Sourcing food sustainably, using the food zones as a framework
  4. Trading fairly
  5. Championing ecological farming and food production
  6. Promoting a diet that is good for both people and planet
  7. Distributing food in a low-carbon, low-impact way
  8. Building a strong community in support of our work
  9. Striving to change the big picture