Are Agricultural Cooperatives the key to Feeding the World?

 

Why do we do what we do?

 

It’s a question that we often think about here at Bucky Box HQ, and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good handle on things these days.  We believe that the food system needs to work for all humans, and the living system we rely on – whether you call her Papatūānuku, Mother Earth, or something else.

 

There’s certainly need for celebration & awareness raising about the importance of issues beyond just the local food movements in developed nations, but also the need for change & energy to be focused on empowering those who are not so fortunate.

 

World Food Day is on 16 October (tomorrow as we’re writing this), so get involved! We’ll be joining the fray, and you can follow @FAOWFD for updates on twitter, or check out some of the videos on the World Food Day Youtube channel.

 

Cooperatives to feed the world?There’s a specific focus this year on the modern day Agricultural Cooperative, and how the revival may be the key to feeding the world.  It’s also the year of the cooperative. There does seem to be some weight to the suggestion – in our own country, New Zealand, one of our largest employers & economic powerhouses is Fonterra – a multi-billion dollar co-operative which provides c25% of the world’s milk powder.  If you’d like to learn more about the theme, check out the FAO World Food Day website.

 

So, join usget involved in World Food Day, take some time out to think about why You do what you do, and make a difference to those who need a hand up.

Do Molly's Quiz for World Food Day, and give people a hand up out of poverty.

 

Disclaimer: Sam has been to Nairobi, and has family who grew up in Africa – it’s a place dear to his heart & he can’t help but reach out & share his love for the continent and many of the people who live there. Thanks for taking the time to read, if all you do is share the video then we’re a step closer to making life better for some people, somewhere in the world. Arohanui from Aotearoa!

Production, Distribution & Waste – Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

Recently we’ve heard the same old arguments being pumped out by industrial agriculture, especially in reaction to the droughts in the US.

 

The argument goes: “There’s almost 7 billion people on Earth, and there’s 1 billion hungry. We need more food to feed the world. We must intensify agriculture; bigger & better, and we’ve got the answer – we call it a Sustainable Agriculture”.  That ‘Sustainable Agriculture future’ is typically large-scale intensive agriculture, GMO, and more sophisticated ‘scientific’ farming methods.  Inevitably the cost of this agriculture is greater, and farmers must have all of the latest information, tools, machinery & chemicals to make it happen.  It also, coincidentally, means greater profits for the big boys of industrial agriculture (rather than farmers).

 

There’s an assumption in there that needs testing: “We need more food to feed the world”.  It’s so often taken as a given, but there significant research which suggests otherwise.

 

We grow enough food to feed 10 billion people already. Eric Holt-Giménez recently wrote a fantastic rebuttal of the industrial agriculture view on the future of food. The first part of his argument centres around the point that Hunger is not caused by scarcity, but by poverty – that is what needs to be tackled to feed the hungry people in the world, not more food.  It follows on to show that Industrial Ag Vs Natural Farming does not represent the gaps in yields that are constantly talked about by GMO advocates. The longest running study (Rodale Institute – 47 year study) shows that Organic farming has better yields & profits, whilst requiring lower energy inputs & causing lower greenhouse gas outputs.

 

We Already Grow Enough Food - Infographic - Challenging Industrial Agriculture

 

The UN have put out several studies on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture which do not support the Industrial Ag spin. They don’t stand to create vast profits from their view, but they do expect to see greater advances in sustainable development & poverty alleviation through more agriculture shifting to small-scale agroecological production. There also are gains in climate resilience and energy reduction from adopting farming based on ecological systems.

 

A 2011 report on Food Waste by the Food & Agriculture Organisation (PDF) suggests 1/3 of global food production is wasted through the supply chain or pre/post consumption. This food waste infographic featured on Food+Tech Connect supports this argument, showing it’s as high as 40% in the US.

 

It’s clear to see there’s significant work that needs to be addressed on the Consumer side of things, but this also supports our assertion that a big change needs to happen upstream.  If food distribution were to change from the centralised, industrial model that accounts for 99% of our food system, to local food webs, then we have the opportunity to disrupt the food waste in this area of the chain too.

 

The world has changed since our food system was invented – the information & web revolution has made new things possible – aggregation of supply & demand through web-based tools is just one of them.  We built Bucky Box for many reasons, one of which indicates the potential for decentralised food systems & local food webs to be more efficient than Industrialised Ag.  By re-localising food distribution with these new tools, we can efficiently move food from farm to fork with minimal wastage, instead of farm to landfill.

 

The time has come for a revolution in our food system.  It may be a quiet revolution which sees individuals consciously choosing to buy local, for small-scale farming to make a wholesale return, and for more-than-profit food distribution to rise, powered by a wave of digital tools for a better food system.

Local & Friendly Food Champion Showcase: The 30 Project

We’re extremely pleased to announce the fifth in a stream of partnerships with local & friendly food champions!

The 30 Project is a think + do tank for changing the food systemWe are big fans of the work the 30 Project have done already, and inspired by their vision to ‘be a think + do tank for changing the food system‘.

The 30 Project addresses the food distribution problem - 1 billion people are hungry, 1 billion are overweightThey aim to tackle the food distribution problem – 1 billion obese, 1 billion starving.  Through initiatives such as the FEED Project and now ChangeDinner, the 30 Project aims to “bring together key organizations and activists working around the world on addressing hunger, obesity, and agriculture issues to talk about their visions for the food system and the next 30-years. Many of the best anti-hunger and anti-obesity organizations have been so focused on their important work that they have not been able to work together on common challenges. The 30 Project is gathering the best people together to work towards creating a truly healthy and sustainable global food system.”

If you haven’t already seen Ellen Gustafson, the founder of 30 Project, speaking at TEDxEAST – here’s her 10 minutes of passion & purpose:

You can support 30 Project directly here, Follow @the30Project on Twitter, or dive into some of the Change Dinner videos like this one:

#ChangeDinner today!

The Change Dinner campaign from 30 ProjectThe back story: in the early stages here at Bucky Box we decided to forego any marketing budget, and instead work with the best of the local & friendly food champions around the world and give our customers the chance to nominate where these funds will go. We see that these are the individuals & organisations who are making significant headway in catalysing, educating & advocating for a fair, friendly, local food system. We support their work to the hilt.

 

Twitter Hashtags for Local Food!

Twitter bird hovers holding #LocalFood signHashtags are a great way to follow specific areas of interest on Twitter, so here’s our run down of hashtags we follow to keep up on the amazing work going on around the world in the local & organic food movement.  Set up a couple of feeds in tweetdeck / hootsuite, and watch the good news roll in!

 

We’ve also been curating a list of people who talk & work on creating a people & planet friendly food system for you to follow.

 

General Farming & Agriculture:

#agriculture / #farming – very general catch all for Agriculture / Farming tweets

#food – general catch all for all things food

#agchat#foodchat – hosted by AgChat.org (“The AgChat Foundation is designed to help those who produce food, fuel, fiber and feed tell agriculture’s story from their point of view.”) – disclaimer: AgChat is sponsored by several corporate & Government interests, but there’s some interesting discussions on both sides of the fence.

#AgChatOz – spurned off the back of the success of the above – this is the space for Australian Farmers & Ag professionals to connect around their home country’s specific challenges and opportunities.

#AgriChatUK – likewise the need for connection and chatter in the UK farming community brought about this hashtag, you can read the full story here.

#AgGen – young farmers and the future of farming is discussed in this growing community. Started in the UK.

#AgChatNZ – Kiwi’s don’t like to miss out, so they spun out this hashtag to talk New Zealand farming. Largely facilitated by the Federated Farmers organisation, which is fairly conservative in their tastes, so tends to be fairly ‘conventional agriculture’ based. That said, there’s interesting work with Biological Farming in NZ, and we’re pushing hard for more Sustainable Ag content in the community too.

#goodfood – often used by daily tweeters to simply chat about their tasty dinners, but there’s quite a bit of use in relation to people & planet friendly food.

#foodbloggers – find & chat with people who blog about Food, there’s even an International Food Blogger conference organised by Foodista!

#SustainableAg / #SustAg – keep in touch with the Sustainable Agriculture discussion on these hashtags.

#Agroecology – keep an eye on this hashtag, as whilst it’s not highly used at the moment, it’s an emerging trend toward Regenerative Agriculture, with a focus on renewing the health of our soils.  Agroecology was identified by the UN Special Rapporteur for Food Security, as a key component in sustainable development, and got a fair bit of press at Rio+20.

#FoodSystem – a hashtag we believe will slowly rise in use, as the local food movement grows, and we understand that we live in a dynamic global food system.

#profood – recently on the rise, focused on all things organic, local & ethical in the food system!

 

Local Food

#localfood – complete with RT bot, the local food hashtag is growing in its use and conversations are often found around it.

#eatlocal – another prolifically used local food hashtag, well worth following!

#locavore – for the ‘ultra local’ fans amongst us, locavore is a term used mostly in Australia & US.

#realfood – people seeking to differentiate from industrialised agriculture can often be found on this hashtag.

#SlowFood – keep up with the Slow Food movement.

#SlowMoney – a movement which grew out of Slow Food, which seeks to raise capital for innovative Food Enterprises which seek to create a better food system.

#Foodies – a term applied to people who follow ‘good food’ practices.

#UrbanAg – check out the discussions on urban agriculture

#TEDxMan – explodes in use during each TEDxManhattan, the 2012 event was themed “Changing The Way We Eat” – report here.

 

Local Food Initiatives & Enterprises – the shorthand

#VegeBox / #VegBox – tweets about Vegetable Box Delivery Schemes.

#CSA – discussion & broadcasts about Community Supported Agriculture.

#FoodHub – find out more about the emergence of Food Hubs around the world on the FoodHub hashtag

If you need a run down on Local Food jargon – check out our guide here.

 

Organic & Permaculture

#permaculture – a big community and movement behind the permaculture principles of agriculture, find out much more on this hashtag.

#organic – the organic movement is growing exponentially year on year, follow its progress here

#biodynamic – an organic method of farming which considers holistic symbiosis of the soil, plants and animals as a self-sustaining system. A little traffic from a defined community, much like permaculture.

 

Health & Education

#FoodRevolution / #FoodRev@JamieOliver created the Food Revolution movement in USA, and the thriving community which use this hashtag also have tools available to co-ordinate through the Food Revolution website.  2012 went down with 1000’s of tweets from around the world – check out our Food Revolution Day photos here.

#FoodDay – a 2011 day launched in USA to bring conversation about healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way, to the masses

#FoodSummit – Conferences around the world have been using this hashtag, but we joined all the forward-thinkers at the Sustainable Food Summit in Australia.

 

Focused on the 1 billion who go to bed hungry

#poverty – used by a diverse group of people, mainly those interested in sustainable food production, development, activists, social enterprises

#changedinner – seeking to address the food distribution problem, @30project launched ChangeDinner campaign in late 2011

 

Intersection of Food & Technology

#foodtech – a thriving community is also growing around the Food+Technology Connect crew who are specifically interested in how technology can change our food system for the better.  There are also great stories highlighted by the Seedstock team in regards to sustainable agriculture focusing on startups, entrepreneurship, technology, urban agriculture, news and research

#localfoodsoftware – popping up now & then as more software, like Bucky Box, becomes available.

 

Follow @buckybox!


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In addition to the above, we sometimes use #socent when we’re talking about the social enterprise foundation to our business – learn more about that here: Video – ‘Tools for a better food system‘.

 

Thanks for reading – please do let us know of any other hashtags we should include, or feel free to pop us on your own list, and we’d love to connect with you at @buckybox!

Twitter Bird sings Local Food Movement hastags

Local Food Odyssey in Melbourne

On a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia, I took a little time out of my much needed vacation to visit a few of the people and organisations who are doing great things for local and organic food in the area.

First stop was to CERES Environment Park, which has been home to an urban sustainability movement since the 1970’s, with a big component being organic food production.

The park is a monument to the various people in the community who have not only believed in the dream, but let sweat trickle down their brows doing the hard work needed to turn a landfill into a thriving hub for sustainability education, action & innovation at the heart of a rapidly sprawling city.

This is one project to keep an eye on; delving a little deeper into CERES’ plan for the coming years, I learnt that they are taking grass-roots Community programs to a new level to add to the amazing array of projects already on site, including; an animal farm, community gardens, café, training kitchen, Education program, community bicycle recycling & workshop, demonstration and research Facility for sustainable water projects, nursery specialising in permaculture/natives and bush foods, and The EcoHouse, showing sustainable living retrofit options.  To add to that CERES was opened in the year I was born.

Delivering local and organic food to MelbourneFrom CERES, I took a wander across to one of the spin off projects – CERES Fair Food to meet Chris, and another Melbourne local foodie – Kirsten of Eaterprises & VEIL.

CERES Fair Food began from the market garden concept within the main park, and was so successful that they decided they should kickstart a vegetable box delivery scheme to reach more people with good organic, local food from the region.  Only 18 months later, they’re doing roaring trade, operating as a social enterprise, and forging a path of ethical food distribution.

It was great to sit and chat with the people we are working hard to support; the people creating local food enterprises, proving that not only can vege box schemes work, but they can thrive and bring nutritious organic food to the masses whilst creating jobs, feeding the local economy, and giving farmers a fair go.  Check out CERES Fair Food’s video:

Designing and nurturing fair sustainable food systems in VictoriaKirsten from Eaterprises – an organisation promoting regenerative food systems – was also a delight to chat with. Her plans for designing & nurturing food systems which take an ecosystem approach; using resources more wisely, and collaborating instead of competing, was a breath of fresh air.  The potential in a city the size of Melbourne is huge, and we have faith that her extensive connections in the area will lead to a better, fairer food system emerging.  Keep up to date with their progress at @eaterprises!

A final visit of the Australian Odyssey was to a slightly different group – those that tackle hunger & poverty head on.  The friendly Marcus from FareShare was good enough to afford me some time to give me a tour and then sit down for a coffee for a yarn about FareShare’s model of food rescue, cooking & distribution.

FareShare Volunteer bakes food to tackle poverty & hungerFareShare runs entirely as a charity, and does an amazing job of attracting donations of fresh & preserved food, which lands at their base in Abbotsford, before getting whipped up into new tasty nutritious treats by an army of volunteers and a couple of paid staff in their commercial quality kitchen.  It was an eye opener to tour the facility and see what is involved in a decent size food rescue organisation, which at the time was a’buzz with Bunnings Warehouse volunteers creating savoury pies, big trays of chilli and quiches.  Marcus told me that FareShare have several trucks on the road constantly picking up and dropping off – around 345 tonnes of food had been rescued this year alone.

The food is redistributed out to a variety of food banks which in turn will get the food to the charities who work hard to get it to the people who need it the most – in all 335 charities have benefited from FareShare’s work this year, and well over 821’000 meals have been served to people who aren’t able to feed themselves or their families.

We are so thankful that people like FareShare exist.  Much of this food might go to waste, so we’re really appreciative of all the food rescue organisation who’ve popped up around the world.  Our local crew here in Wellington, Kaibosh, are also doing a fantastic job.

Social Enterprise & Innovation co-working space in MelbourneA little time spent in Hub Melbourne also gave me a chance to catch up with the ever interesting David Hood of Doing Something Good, and Will Donovan of Ideas for Melbourne fame (among other things).  It’s always good to drop into the Hub to see who is around, and Will pointed me in the direction of one or two other people doing good stuff in local food, after his involvement in the OpenIDEO Local Food initiative earlier in the year.

My visit was complete, and I left Melbourne with a warm glow, knowing that there are some awesome people working on some great projects.  Hopefully I’ll be bringing back some of that innovation, excitement and depth of experience & energy to New Zealand, and then spreading it out around the world as Bucky Box begins to reach new people and places.Melbourne, VIC, Australia by night

#OccupyFood

It’s been a while since @OccupyWallSt kicked off, and turned things upside down around the world.

Several things about Occupy have stuck with me as we learn more about the ideals, motivations and purpose of the movement, and what it is evolving into.

I never saw that Occupy was about anti-capitalism or radical views. I saw Occupy was about Conversation. I see the movements around the world modelling a society they want to live in, about showing that consensus is possible, and that ‘inequality anywhere is a threat to equality everywhere’.

When I look at Occupy through the lens of our Food systems, I see several of the same things happening, and indeed there has been a lot of involvement from various food system educators & advocates in the discussions.

We see a crumbling system which is failing us – industrialised food is causing harm and inequality around the world to people and planet.  We see the need for a platform of robust discussion about the status quo, and conversation about what is possible.  We see that technology has changed so much, that a localised, distributed food system is possible. We see that economics are controlling a system which is much more complex than money alone.

We’re looking to see how this brighter future can be realised, and we’re seeing the Local Food Movement has already started, and is growing every day.  We see that a widescale return to organic farming is already happening (at exponential growth of 20% per year!).

We see that now is the time to take back our food system.

Not only does Bucky Box stand for a Food System which is friendly to People & Planet, but we also consider Poverty & Hunger part of our mandate. We see farmers getting a fair deal as part of our mandate.  We see food distributor accountability as part of our mandate. We see transparency for Consumer decision making as part of our mandate.

Join us in a better food system, starting today.

Bucky Box catalyses local food from Bucky Box on Vimeo.

Here’s some further takes on Occupying Food:

What is your take on the growing food movement, and how it relates to what is going on with Occupy?

What kind of a food system would you like to see in the future?

What platforms already exist to discuss how big food is impacting our people & planet?