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 [email protected]
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: [email protected]
Britain: Foundation for Local Food Initiatives www.localfood.co.uk
North America: www.localharvest.org www.foodshare.net
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
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.