Good Food Governance

Fresh-range: How we can all ‘buy better’

By Rich Osborn

Rich Osborn

Rich Osborn founded fresh-range in Bristol in 2014. Fresh-range delivers fresher produce, sourced with care to homes, businesses, schools and universities six days a week. They are a Going for Gold Programme Supporter, and in the blog post below Rich explains why Buying Better is so important, and the changes we can all make.

Buying Better. Easy to say, much, much harder to do. Food, farming and mass supply chains are so complicated, even the experts in the field disagree about what ‘buying better’ actually means. So, how can I cut through the complexity and make informed buying decisions on food? Why should make an effort on this when it’s so complicated? How can I make simple changes to buy better?

Why buy better?

Other than the obvious taste or health reasons, there is a relatively common consensus that as much as 30% of the world’s greenhouse gases are generated by food. It’s contributing to climate change more than all forms of air, sea, road and rail transport, heating and air conditioning combined. Put more positively, it’s likely to be the single biggest opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint. Why haven’t you heard that before? Perhaps, it’s because it is so complicated to compare the relative carbon footprints of putting a banana in your trolley versus a block of cheese. Sadly, we’re years away from mass supermarkets being able to communicate this kind of data on the food they sell.

In addition to the greenhouse gas issue, we also face a crisis of biodiversity. Every single day, hundreds of species are becoming extinct across the world – that’s way above any natural extinction rate calculation. Life on earth as we know it relies on an intricate balance of many species, each dependent on the existence of the other species. If we wipe out one, another is threatened – nature’s food chains matter. The undeniable truth is that our clamour for cheaper and cheaper food means that the majority of farming in this country has been forced into more and more intensive methods. The impact of forcing an unnatural process on the soil, crops and animals is that we devastate the countryside and the natural world we need to live in harmony with.

How can I buy better?

One answer is to buy as much food as possible with short supply chains. And I don’t just mean ‘shopping local’, I mean buying food where the provenance of the food is clear and transparent partly because there are relatively fewer links in the chain between the producer and you. Whilst it’s great to support local producers, there are still real advantages if the producer is 200 miles away from your kitchen but the supply chain between them and you has relatively few links in it. Why is this so important? With transparent provenance on your food, you can find out detailed information about what the producer is doing, how they’re doing it and why. This can then present you with facts about the food and its production that you couldn’t hope to get when buying food via mass supply chains. It enables you to make informed choices.

We at fresh-range have been dedicated to bringing short, fast, light supply chains to life across all sectors – home delivery, public sector and private catering for several years now. We’ve learnt how short supply chains are a pre-requisite to being transparent about where food is from and how it was made. Short supply chains enable our customers to make informed choices about the production methods of the food in the first place. It’s allowed many of our customers to learn so much more about what ‘buying better’ means for them. It’s given them the power to decide.

Our commitment to helping individuals and organisations to ‘buy better’, is why we are pleased to be a Programme Supporter of Going for Gold. We believe there can be a revolution in the way we think about and buy food. Bristol can lead the way.

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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