Manchester Veg People & Sustainable Organic Food For All?

Just published an article at the Guardian looking at the implications of having a huge – and privileged – client like the University of Manchester tapping into the city’s limited supply of organic fruit and veg through an organic food co-op (namely Manchester Veg People).

Here’s a snippet:

Julie Brown, who has been working with a more community-focused food co-op in London called ‘Growing Communities’ admits that Manchester’s co-op differs from conventional sustainable food models due to its focus on public procurement. She adds that as there are so few organic farmers around, there would be times when smaller organisations such as organic veg box schemes would struggle to co-exist alongside co-ops with large public sector clients. She says:

The problem is that there are not a lot of sustainable farmers left and so to make sure that smaller groups have access to local organic veg, you would need to be encouraging more growers. You would need to convince conventional farmers to switch to organic and also get farmers who are currently supplying supermarkets to start working with cooperatives and small groups.

Read the full article at the Guardian site.

We’ll be following the progress of the co-op in the coming year right here at Manchester Climate Monthly, so keep your eyes peeled.

Arwa Aburawa – Freelance journalist who moonlights at Manchester Climate Monthly, where shameless acts of self-promotion are encouraged (mainly by Marc)

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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1 Response to Manchester Veg People & Sustainable Organic Food For All?

  1. Just to clarify a few things in the article, the role of Manchester Veg People has been to identify new markets for organic food to increase the amount of sustainable food we produce here in the North West. There is no issue of shortage of supply, in fact growers have land they would love to put into production if only they had a guaranteed market.
    The Co-op already works with smaller outlets such as Green Plate in Moss Side, but the involvement of large, consistent buyers is going to be essential if we to start turning around farming in the North West. The fact that the University has decided to become a member of the co-op is the first step in establishing a market for sustainable food in the city, but we will need to go much further if local farmers are to have the confidence to invest in sustainable production.
    We see the public sector as key to building a sustainable food system in the city for two reasons; firstly, they are the largest buyer of food in the city and have a commitment to reduce their carbon impact; secondly, by selling to schools and hospitals we can ensure that everyone has access to sustainable food, dispelling the myth particularly around organics that it good food is a niche market for privileged buyers. By buying direct from local farmers, the public sector can provide access to quality food for all the people of Manchester, within existing budgets, while making huge cuts in carbon and supporting the local economy. We work very closely with Julie Brown and have learnt a lot from the ‘Growing Communities’ model, she has been part of developing, but we see the two strands as working hand-in-hand. The food and drink sector is the largest single contributor to carbon emissions in the city and we need to be ambitious if we’re going to make the necessary reductions.

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