New Internationalist

Action

Issue 353

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Food and farming / ACTION
The delicious revolution (or what you can do)

You don't have to
eat boiled turnips
Regional variety Fresh, local and seasonal food is better for you, reduces the environmental impact of transport and is good for the local economy. Buying straight from the farmer can do you, your family, the farmer and the planet a world of good.

Farmers markets A survey of British farmers markets in the Southwest showed that equivalent products were 30 to 40 per cent cheaper than those in the local supermarkets. Best value were seasonal organic vegetables which were up to 50 per cent cheaper. Many goods, like local varieties of cheese, were not available in supermarkets at all.

Australia: Jane Adams, the Australasian Farmers Market Association jacom@bigpond.net.au

Britain: National Association of Farmers Markets www.farmersmarkets.net
Big Barn (The Virtual Farmers Market) www.bigbarn.co.uk

Community-supported agriculture brings the consumer into direct contact with the producer. Consumers commit in advance to buying farm produce regularly. In the process they discover seasonality, freshness and the cost of food production. Some subscribers contribute farm labour in exchange for part of the harvest, and children are often welcome to visit the farm and find out where their food comes from.

Australia: Friends of the Earth (Brisbane) PO Box 5702, West End, Qld, 4101. email: foebrisbane@uq.net.au

Britain: Foundation for Local Food Initiatives www.localfood.co.uk

North America: www.localharvest.org www.foodshare.net

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Ethical shopping
The Good Shopping Guide is a handy tool for ethical shoppers, with a large 'Good Food and Drink' section. NI readers in Britain can order it at a special price of £10 (including p&p). Send a cheque made out to: The Ethical Marketing Group, New Internationalist Reader Offer, The Good Shopping Guide, 240 Portobello Road, London W11 1LL (write your address on the back of the cheque so they know where to send your copy). Or buy online www.thegoodshoppingguide.co.uk

Fair-trade brands guarantee a fair price for farmers in developing countries. To find fair-trade organizations in your country contact the International Federation for Alternative Trade (IFAT), 30 Murdock Road, Bicester, Oxon OX6 7RF, UK www.ifat.org

Organic food systems aim to avoid the use of artificial chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. Buying organic is the only way to guarantee you won't be eating genetically modified foods or food with antibiotics. It is better for soil quality and for wildlife. If the organic food you buy has been flown half-way round the world, however, it's probably more eco-friendly to go for local, non-organic food.

Australia: The Organic Federation of Australia www.ofa.org.au

Britain: Soil Association

www.soilassociation.org.uk

North America: The Organic Consumers Association www.purefood.org

Co-operatives started supermarkets as we know them today in 19th-century Britain. Independent local retailers were controlled by their consumer members, who sold food at prices working people could afford. The only supermarket that maintains the co-op tradition in Britain is the Co-op network, with a strong social-responsibility brief and fair-trade brands. Recently it put a penny on the price of milk to aid ailing British dairy farmers (see page 10). Its home-shopping website is www.co-op2u.com, www.co-op.co.uk/index has links to international food co-ops worldwide.

Contact your local environmental group to find other ideas for ethical food sourcing.

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Grow your own
From urban gardens to allotments to school projects, growing your own is a fun option and a great way to teach children about health, the environment and food.

Australia: West Pacific urban agriculture network fawmpl@powerup.com.au

Britain: Since the Second World War everyone in Britain has been entitled to an allotment. Contact your local council.

North America: www.cityfarmer.org

For information on seed-saving visit www.primalseeds.org

The Seed Savers' Network www.seedsavers.net

The Henry Doubleday Foundation www.hdra.org.uk

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Campaigning
Australia: Australian Gene Ethics Network (AGEN) www.geneethics.org

Britain: Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) www.ciwf.co.uk

Pesticides Action Network (PAN) www.pan-uk.org

Sustain www.sustainweb.org

Friends of the Earth www.foe.org.uk

Grassroots Action for Food and Farming www.gaff.org.uk

North America: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy www.iatp.org

US Farm Crisis www.farmcrisis.org

Food First www.foodfirst.org

ETC Group (formerly RAFI) www.etcgroup.org

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Progressive farmers' unions

Via Campesina (Rafael Alegria, Paul Nicholson) Colonia Alameda, Casa #2025, 11 Calle, 3 y 4 Avenidas, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, email: viacam@gbm.hn, www.viacampesina.org

Via Campesina members include:

Confederation Paysanne, France. Send a solidarity message to José Bové, currently in jail for destroying GM rice in 1999 with visiting Indian farmers. www.confederationpaysanne.fr

National Farmer's Union, Canada www.nfu.ca

Landless Movement of Brazil www.mst.org.br

Small and Family Farmers Alliance, Britain, visit www.ruralfutures.org

Read more about the campaign for food sovereignty at www.peoplesfoodsovereignty.org

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Photo: Florence / UNEP / Still Pictures


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