Sustainable Food Communities in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Assembly has become the first organisation in the country to achieve the prestigious bronze Food for Life Catering Mark for all of the meals served in Parliament Buildings.
The award will be announced at an event on 29 March 2012 to mark the launch of the Soil Association’s Sustainable Food Communities project in Northern Ireland.The half-day conference, held at Parliament Buildings, will feature speakers and contributors covering the food chain from production to consumption, exploring the importance of local food provenance, the significance of vibrant food markets and the role of catering accreditation initiatives, amongst other themes.
The achievement of the bronze Food for Life Catering Mark makes the Assembly the first legislative body in these islands to demonstrate the sustainability of the meals it serves to its Members, employees, visitors and the many dignitaries that dine there each year.

William Hay MLA, Speaker of the NI Assembly, who will make the award said:
“Our caterers at the Assembly, Eurest Services, submitted themselves to the rigorous examination of Soil Association inspectors earlier this year and I’m delighted to be able to announce that they have qualified for the bronze Catering Mark. This award makes the Assembly the very first organisation in Ireland, North or South, to achieve this standard. And I hope there will be many others ready to follow our leadership in supporting a thriving local food economy, based on fresh, local, seasonal and organic produce.”

Eurest Services, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, is a leading provider of catering and support services. Fiacra Nagle, Managing Director of Compass Group Ireland said, “Eurest Services is delighted to have achieved this award which demonstrates our ongoing commitment to sustainable sourcing. I am extremely proud of the great service we provide at the Northern Ireland Assembly, delivered by a great team of people. This team has worked hard to achieve this bronze Catering Mark and I want to congratulate them all on this success.”

Jim Kitchen, the Soil Association’s NI Project Manager said: “This commitment to serve food that’s good for people as well as being good for the planet is a real step forward. The Assembly is demonstrating its leadership in providing sustainable food; let’s see if some other public sector organisations can follow suit.”

Promoting the tastes of Europe

The European Commission has today adopted a Communication entitled ‘Promotion measures and information provision for agricultural products: a reinforced value‑added strategy for promoting the tastes of Europe’. The Communication is the second stage of the promotion policy reform process launched in July 2011, which aims to make the agriculture and agri‑food sector more dynamic and more competitive and to promote sustainable, intelligent and inclusive growth.

On this occasion Dacian Cioloș, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: ‘The European Union has a good hand to play to make its economy more dynamic and boost growth and jobs by further optimising the benefits of its agricultural and agri‑food products, both on the European market and world markets. Exports in this sector already represent more than €100 billion. In an increasingly open world, the success of European agriculture also depends on its capacity to strengthen and develop its position. This entails new ambition for our promotion policy and putting in place a real Community strategy for optimising the use of our products.’

This new ambition is expressed in the key objectives set for the future promotion policy, centred around four themes:

  •     real European added value;
  •     more attractive programmes with a bigger impact;
  •     simpler and more effective management;
  •     new synergies between the different promotion instruments.
This Communication reflects the in‑depth consideration launched in July 2011 by the adoption of a Green Paper about the policy of information and promotion for agricultural products which was a leading initiative to strengthen the competitiveness of EU agriculture and which generated a broad public debate, as well as the information in the report on the external evaluation carried out in 2011 on the present promotion policy.

This document opens the debate on the content of the future promotion policy at interinstitutional level. Once these discussions have been concluded, the Commission will present legislative proposals before the end of the year.

Source and more info: European Union

Minnesota: Growing the Local Food Economy

Fresh Choices: Growing the Local Food Economy

There will be  tasty food samples provided by One Dish at a Time, Birchwood Café, Common Roots, Bryant Lake Bowl, Sen Yai Sen Lek, Chowgirls, Brasa, and Right on Thyme, along with coffee by Peace Coffee. 

While you’re enjoying your snacks you can visit with various organizations that are involved in our food community here in the Twin Cities.  At The Minnesota Project exhibit you will have the opportunity to learn more about some of our initiatives including Fruits of the City, and our Local Foods Program.  The Garden Gleaning Project will also be there.

Along with some great food and an opportunity to learn more about organizations in the area, there will be a stimulating group of speakers talking on a variety of aspects of our local food economy.

US: Local Foods, Local Jobs Act

Home producers of value-added food products such as canned, baked or dry goods, have either had to use their home kitchen under the radar, or spend money renting commercial kitchens. Most states require that food products be made in commercial approve kitchens, but this added expense many home-based food businesses from even getting off the ground.

As jobs in this economy are still elusive for many, it doesn’t make sense for local and state authorities to put more roadblocks in the way of starting a home business. And with the growing interest in local foods, the cottage food industry offers a chance to improve the local economy.

As a producer of home-made spice blends and herbal tea blends (with no budget to rent a commercial kitchen), I was happy to learn that Colorado has adopted the Local Foods, Local Jobs Act. The act eases impediments to local markets by exempting home kitchens from certain health inspections that are generally aimed at larger retailers. Food producers using home kitchens will be trained on safe food handling and processing procedures, and will be required to properly label their products as coming from a home kitchen.

Senator Gail Schwartz, sponsor of the Local Foods, Local Jobs Act, said: “I am pleased to see that this jobs bill passed with bipartisan support as it will directly benefit many hard-working Coloradans. By empowering Colorado’s small farms and small-business entrepreneurs, this bill will create jobs, strengthen the economy, and promote tourism in our local communities.”

Small producers who sell directly to their customers are now exempt from having to use commercial kitchens or pay for health department inspections, or special permits. The act covers producers who sell less than $100,000 worth of products each year, a limit design to keep these small businesses from running in direct competition with larger local businesses.

How To Create A Local Food Economy – Grow Your Own Food

As fuel prices increase and the economy crashes, it is going to become more and more important (vital, actually) to become self-sufficient. When gas goes up, everything goes up. Unemployment is still on the rise, and those who have jobs are not seeing raises in line with the escalating cost of living. Our budgets are going to be strained further than they already are.Food prices have risen as much as 40% in the last year, and projections are for further increases over the next few years. Here’s why.
  •     The agricultural industry depends on fossil fuels to produce and transport food. Fuel goes up, food goes up.
  •     Unstable climate and severe weather make it hard for farmers to plan. Crops have been wiped out completely by extreme weather. Supply goes down, price goes up.
  •     Warmer temperatures make growing familiar crops difficult, too. Farmers are in flux. Again, this is crop loss, driving prices up.
  •     Foods, such as corn, are used for biofuels. It’s supply and demand again.
The number of people on food stamps and/or taking advantage of soup kitchens and church pantries keeps increasing as the economy deteriorates. Food stamp recipients are also having their benefits cut, sometimes slashed, which strains a family already in need.

Small farms are more protected from the problems of industrial agriculture, but they do experience cost increases in supplies and fuel as well as unusual weather. Because they sell locally, though, their expenses aren’t as high, and their prices are more stable. 

Food tasting promotes natural, local foods and local economy

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) – If you’re looking to try some foods that are not only natural, but local, then head over to the City of Rome, where Brenda’s Natural Foods at 216 West Dominick Street is holding a food tasting until 6 p.m. on Friday.Cookies, popcorn and yogurt are just a few things that were available for sampling and were not only natural, but many from local farms and manufacturers.

Store owner Brenda Henry says that shopping local is not only good for one’s health, but also helps local farmers and business, boosting the local economy.

Henry says that starting Monday, April 2, the shop will be offering some new items to take with you on the go.

“We’re going to do light lunch options and take out foods. We don’t really have room to sit, but we’re going to have gluten free and regular multi-grain wraps with organic turkey and ham and veggies, veggie wraps, salads,” she said. “I’d like to do a southwest salad and maybe a salad, maybe a cobb salad with eggs. We have local eggs.”

If you’d like to order your own local food, Brenda’s Natural Food Store is a pick-up point for the Foodshed Syracuse, where you can go online and order local produce and meats and pick them up in the City of Rome.

There is also a Foodshed based out of Utica for the city and its surrounding towns and villages. Foodshed offers residents a connection to local farms and producers for organic, natural and local food and products.

Source: WKTV

Ultra-local food: the proximity principle

 The world is going urban

Demographic change across the globe will also force a change in how we think about our food supply. According to a study published by the World Health Organization, for the first time in history, more people live in cities than in the countryside. Every year the number of urban residents across the globe is increasing by a jaw-dropping 60 million.

Although the U.S. has an urban growth rate that is lower than in the developing world, every year one million acres in the U.S. are lost to cultivation due to urbanization, suburban sprawl, expanding transportation networks, and industrial expansion.  The future is clear. More people clustered in cities farther from food sources, and fewer families growing their own food as they leave the land for city dwelling.  As cities grow to make room for an ever-increasing population, fertile land is gobbled up by urban sprawl.  Add to the mix escalating fuel costs and environmental degradation, and you have a perfect storm that demands radical change—the necessity for a more sustainable model.

 The imperative for local food

The growth of farmers’ markets nationwide is proof of widespread support for local sourcing.  In 1970, there were 340 farmers’ markets.  Today the number is 7,175 and growing. Consumers are buying at local markets because they’re finding that locally produced food in season is similar or lower in cost than supermarket fare. The local carrot—harvested within 100 miles of consumption—beats out the industrially farmed carrot not just in lower-transportation costs but even more importantly in taste and food value.  Recent nutritional studies confirm that fresh foods retain more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Although local food production represents less than 1 percent of total food production in the U.S., it’s growing at an annual rate of about 10 percent.  In 2002, locally grown food was worth $4 billion.  This year, it is estimated that locally grown food could top out at $7 billion.  And those billions are vital to sustaining local communities as local-food dollars flow directly back into the local economy.

La tendance du circuit court dans les produits alimentaires

XERFI vient de publier une étude approfondie « Les circuits courts dans l’alimentaire – Vue d’ensemble du marché et tendances d’évolution à l’horizon 2015, panorama des forces en présence». Le groupe Xerfi est en France le spécialiste des études économiques sectorielles. Il apporte à ses clients l’accès rapide, fiable, clair, à la connaissance actualisée des évolutions sectorielles, des stratégies des acteurs économiques et de leur environnement.
Une nouvelle démarche d’achat des Français

Les produits alimentaires vendus à la ferme, sur les marchés, par un système de paniers (AMAP) ou chez les commerçants détaillants sont dans l’air du temps. La volonté de redonner du sens à l’acte d’achat, de consommer des produits locaux et de soutenir les petits producteurs a relancé l’intérêt pour les circuits courts. Les aliments proposés par ces filières sont perçus comme de meilleure qualité et offrant une meilleure traçabilité dans un contexte de remise en cause de l’hyperconsommation et de craintes à propos de nouvelles crises sanitaires. Les considérations environnementales sont également un critère de décision pour les consommateurs, inquiets notamment des dégâts de l’agriculture intensive. Autant de facteurs socio-culturels qui expliquent le développement de ces circuits courts. Leurs ventes représenteraient environ 1,5% de la consommation alimentaire des ménages en France, soit un chiffre d’affaires estimé à 2,5 milliards d’euros en 2010 d’après l’étude de Xerfi.

Une tendance de fond et un développement sur le long terme

Les ventes de ces filières courtes devraient continuer à progresser sur un rythme proche de celui de la consommation alimentaire en valeur (de 2 à 2,5% par an). A l’horizon 2015, elles pourraient avoisiner 2,8 milliards d’euros selon les pronostics des experts de Xerfi. Toutefois, la persistance d’un contexte économique dégradé et la difficulté à élargir la cible de clientèle freinera leur développement.
La commercialisation via les circuits courts devra en effet surmonter des problèmes structurels pour assurer son développement futur. Les producteurs sont confrontés à des contraintes diverses : investissements coûteux, mise aux normes des installations, accès difficile au crédit bancaire, besoins plus importants en main-d’oeuvre, difficultés à répondre aux appels d’offre en raison de l’irrégularité des récoltes, etc. L’éloignement des exploitations des bassins de consommation peut décourager une partie des consommateurs.
Par ailleurs, les produits vendus en circuits courts peuvent être plus coûteux que ceux distribués dans les réseaux classiques. Ce qui limite les possibilités d’étendre la cible de clientèle (la majorité des clients des circuits courts sont des cadres ou professions intellectuelles supérieures).

Les circuits courts concernent des opérateurs très différents
Les producteurs ont joué un rôle majeur dans le développement récent des circuits courts. Certains se sont rassemblés en groupements ou associations pour accroître la diffusion de leurs produits (Les
Jardins de Cocagne ou Le Petit Producteur). La vente directe permet aussi aux producteurs de contourner la grande distribution et ainsi de réaliser des marges plus importantes.
Les industriels (comme par exemple Bonduelle, Cooperl Arc Atlantique) se développent en aval en intégrant le maillon de la distribution. Ils peuvent opérer par croissance interne (développement de réseaux, en propre ou en franchise) ou externe (rachat d’enseignes). Le contact direct avec les consommateurs leur permet d’affiner leur stratégiemarketing et de communiquer sur les procédés de fabrication.
-Pour la grande distribution, la commercialisation de produits en circuits courts est une manière d’attirer une clientèle qui remet en cause le fonctionnement des filières longues. Les groupements d’indépendants (Système U, Centres E. Leclerc, Intermarché) ont généralement davantage de latitude pour développer des partenariats avec des producteurs locaux, une partie de l’assortiment n’étant pas par les centrales d’achat nationales. Cette démarche permet aux enseignes d’étendre la gamme des produits proposés et de communiquer sur leur ancrage local.

Sans oublier le rôle des sites Internet, développés par les producteurs à la recherche d’un canal de distribution alternatif ou des sociétés spécialisées dans le commerce en ligne, qui jouent les intermédiaires entre les producteurs locaux et les consommateurs.