Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.
Most experts agree that we have an unsustainable and rather sick food industry. Luckily we have a plan to fix it, especially if we can all work together.
What is wrong?
Consumers have become disconnected with where their food comes from and more influenced by supermarket special offers and marketeers than what is healthy and in season from local producers.
Farmers only get an average of 9p in every £1 spent on food in the supermarket and over half the grain we grow in this country goes to feed animals to produce meat, dairy and eggs?
For the last 30 years Western food policy has distorted market forces in the food industry by subsidising cheap, unhealthy food and supporting environmental damage.
Taxpayers are paying to subsidise cheap food, then pay again as water rates rise to remove agricultural waste, and pay again with the rising NHS cost of food related disease.
So where do we want to be?
We need an enlightened society where consumers make the right food buying choices and are enthusiastic about food and cooking.Where marketeers promotions for unhealthy food are ignored. Sustainable grass fed meat is preferred to cheap imports or low animal welfare meat. And cooking simple healthy meals from low cost seasonal, local, or home grown, veg is the new trend.
This seems a very long way from where we are now so how do we get there?
At BigBarn we have been asking this question for 19 years and believe that with the the younger generation’s growing passion for change there is a solution.
With the food industry this means 3 elements that are interconnected and as each grow, act as a virtuous circle.
They are Enlightenment, Trade and Buy-in.
We see the first, and most important strand of enlightenment is to get food growing and cooking in schools.
Over half our schools already have a veg patch or garden, and tricky academic subjects can be brought to life in the veg patch.Our Crop for the Shop initiative also means schools can sell what they have grown to make money for the school. Video here
When running this project we saw how every child’s attitude change from ‘I hate Carrots’, to, ‘Those are really tasty’, and one child said, ‘I am going to grow some at home as my mum is really unhealthy’. If every child left school knowing how to grow veg, were enthused to cook it, and even sell some to local shops, we would see some really positive changes to health, as well as community building as shops and schools grow and trade healthy food.
The second way to enlighten society is to share food knowledge.We have found that nearly every community has an expert on most cooking skills like bread making, basic cookery, etc, and many local people want to learn about these skill through a course.
To meet this need BigBarn is setting up a course database so that course providers can register their skill and local community venues like farm shops, or village halls can book them to run a course for local people. A small fee can be charged for the course provider and venue to share. Please register here to receive updates on this initiative.
Our third way to enlighten people, and link to the element No. 2, is local food trade. The more consumers buy from local producers the more they learn about the produce and by buying encourage more local production.
To help this process we host and share a constantly updating Local Food Map viewed by typing in a postcode. All those listed can add to their icon and webpage to enlighten readers and encourage trade.
So far 90 parter organisations share and promote the map and some even add their members.This increases visitors to the map and number of food outlets on the map. All making it more powerful to all stakeholders and encouraging buy-in to a more sustainable, local, food system.
To encourage further buy-in we will be;
1. Adding a local offers APP where users can set preferences (like vegetarian) and get a ‘beeb’ from their phone if within a certain radius of a local food offer.
2. A loyalty scheme for shops and MarketPlace
3. Converting to a Community Benefit society so that everyone owns BigBarn, the map, MarketPlace and content
4. Crowd funding to allow everyone to buy a share in the Local Food Platform and benefit from trade and community building via tax breaks and interest on investment.
Exciting times! And desperately needed to get us, our farmers, and our community, healthy and wealthy. Please spread the word and register here to receive updates on progress. Or email [email protected] to get the investor prospectus coming soon.