Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.
I heard the great Sir Don Curry ask the panel at the launch of the RSA’s recent Food & Farming report how they hoped they would get the government to have a ‘massive change of mindset’. Perhaps because the RSA report contained similar findings and recommendations to Sir Don’s highly acclaimed report 17 years earlier.
Since the 2002 report Food & Farming has got steadily worse, including:
1. On average farmers only get 9p in every £1 spent on food in the supermarket
2. 20% of NHS spend is on food related disease (£49billion on obesity alone)
3. The environment is suffering as a result of intensive farming
4. We waste 30% of what we produce
5. We use far too much plastic and chemicals
To me it is not just the government that needs to make the big change. Farming and consumers attitude must also change in a big way.There is no point producing healthy, organic, food if consumers only want sugary, salty, takeaways and ready meals, all wrapped in plastics.
Changing the food industry is why BigBarn was conceived 19 years ago this week. BigBarn has been quietly doing what Sir Don’s, and most reports since, have recommended: Reconnect consumers with their local food producers and encourage trade and communication.
Trade to give farmers a higher percent of the retail price and encourage them to grow more food. And communication to get consumers enthused to cook healthy, seasonal, local food.
We started with our Local Food Map to help people find a better alternative to the supermarket. Over the years, to encourage more people to break the supermarket habit and reconnect with their local producers, we added initiatives, including:
1. ‘Cheaper than the Supermarket’ to show how local producers can undercut the supermarket due to shorter supply chains.
2. ‘Crop for the Shop’ to encourage consumers and schools to grow and trade food
It is now very clear to us that education is one, if not, THE, top priorities. If enough people want fresh, sustainable grown, plastic free, food, local farmers will grow it.
Our crop for the shop in schools where we linked Food Growing, cooking and nutrition to the curriculum has been an outstanding success. Video here.We have seen kids picking carrots in the veg patch, converted from; ‘I hate Carrots’ to; ‘Those are delicious, I am going to grow some for my mum’.
As over 14,000 of our 26,000 schools already have a veg patch or garden, and many organisations like us have the teaching notes for the curriculum, this should be easy. And 100 times more effective than the £40m spent on free fruit and veg for schools where 50% is wasted and 70% is imported. More here.
The government must be bold and drive new policy through all departments. Unlike 2002 when very little decisive action was taken to Sir Don’s report. Luckily the excuse of: ‘We should not go against EU farming policy’, is no longer relevant.
Change is often unpopular yet recent events like, extinction rebellion, and schools on strike, show that most people can see we need to change and should welcome bold government action.
To help please check out and sign our petition to; Get food Growing, cooking & nutrition on the curriculum here. Buy local food using our Local Food Map or if you have a website send us an email and we will send you code to have the map on your website. More here.