More and more food co-ops want to buy local produce because of the environmental and social benefits and because of the growing demand from consumers.
Some of the advantages of supplying local and seasonal food are that it is:
- Fresher: often you will get a delivery the day or even a few hours after it's been picked
- Tastier: if your fruit and vegetables are fresh and in season you can taste the difference
- Healthier: vitamins essential for health can deteriorate with long storage times, so for fruit and vegetables, the fresher the better
- Good for reducing food miles: even local food still needs to be transported but no-one can dispute the difference between ferrying apples a few miles down the road and importing them from across the globe
- A way to support local farmers and keeps growing skills alive: we are going to need people who can grow food, as it becomes ever clearer that we cannot keep transporting it from thousands of miles away
- Helpful in supporting the local economy: buying locally helps ensure more money circulates in the local economy helping more local farms and food enterprises stay in business
Case study - Wellington Food Co-ops in Somerset
Two co-ops run in Wellington, one during the afternoon on Tuesdays at Wellington Children's Centre (since July 2007) and the other at The Young People's centre on Monday evenings (since June 2008). They supply some pre-ordered fruit and vegetables weekly; occasional fish and meat packs; and eggs and fruit juice are also sold - and all of this produce is from the surrounding area. Wellington is a good example of a food co-op buying very local produce from a range of suppliers. They have an added advantage as the vegetable grower, Ray Weymouth, spends time at the co-op talking with customers to build strong customer-farmer links. Due to the reliable and regular purchases of his crops by the food co-op, Ray has taken on an extra field to grow more vegetables. Soft fruit is available when in season, including raspberries and strawberries, which are supplied by a local fruit farm and delivered jointly with the vegetables. Apple juice and eggs are both sold each week and £15 and £30 meat packs are provided by Beech Hayes Farm.
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