The Ethical Shopping Pyramid

Our friends and supporters at Sustainable Table have kindly provided some resources on ethical consumption. Food is a necessity, we don't get to choose if we eat. 

The Cardinia Community Food Hub aims to provide the community with a place and space to purchase locally grown food. All our produce food is sourced directly from local farmers. We pay a fair price and purchase seasonal produce, directly supporting small to medium sized local farms.  

The Ethical Shopping Pyramid helps us understand the food system and how we can make choices to support a fair, just and sustainable food system. 

 

ETHICAL EATING PYRAMID

Follow our ethical shopping pyramid to benefit your health and our environment. Your food will not have travelled as far to reach your plate, it will stay fresher for longer and you will be eating seasonally, which tastes better, is cheaper and better for the environment.

Reducing your eco-footprint is not as hard as you may think. Simply by starting to consider your own consumption patterns and altering the way you shop can make a huge difference. In this section you’ll find some practical and achievable things you can do to reduce your environmental impact.

With between 30% and 60% of our personal eco-footprint embodied in the food that we buy, there has never been a better place to start.

LARGE SUPERMARKETS

In Australia the two largest retailers, Coles and Woolworths, control around 70% of the market, making Australia one of the most concentrated grocery markets in the world. Relatively new budget players such as Aldi are increasingly placing pressure on all players to push prices down, which has far-reaching impacts on farmer livelihood, animal welfare and environmental stewardship. Aldi now commands a 12.1% share of the supermarket sector and has surpassed IGA as Australia’s third-largest supermarket chain.

Supermarkets have huge buying power and can often source and sell produce at a cheaper rate than independent stores. The downside is that this centralised food system pressures farmers into providing cheaper produce, which is what has seen many farmers turn to factory farming and other intensive farming practices that cause environmental degradation.

Supermarkets also tend to stock only varieties of fruit and vegetables that have a longer shelf life, resulting in a loss of biodiversity, making us vulnerable to shocks in the food system, such as disease and pest outbreaks. They also sell the vast majority of their products in packaging, much of which is soft plastic and cannot go into residential recycling bins (see The Problem with Plastic).

Further, the number of farmers in Australia has been declining for many decades as small farmers sell up to large-scale farming operations and fewer young people take over family farms. There were 19,700 fewer farmers in Australia in 2011 than in 2006, a fall of 11% over five years. Over the 30 years to 2011, the number of farmers declined by 106,200 (40%)[1], More alarmingly, farmers are almost two and a half times more likely to commit suicide than any other profession.[2]

We depend on farmers to put food on the table, so we need to start valuing them and paying them a fair price for what they do.

Despite this, blaming supermarkets for the problems with our food system would be wrong. They are simply responding to consumer demand. Supermarkets will only ever stock what generates a profit, so the power lies with us. Coles, for example, made the decision to phase out the inhumane use of sow stalls on their own brand pork products and the use of cage eggs in their own-brand egg range after consumers and animal welfare groups voiced their concern.

Remember, every dollar you spend is a vote for the type of food system you would like to be a part of, so choose wisely.

ORGANIC GROCER OR BOX DELIVERY, ORGANIC BUTCHER, BAKER, SUSTAINABLE FISHMONGER

Organic grocers and box delivery services provide consumers with convenience and still provides a way for you to purchase food that is healthier, tastier, and more environmentally sound (see Organic vs. Industrial Farming). Purchasing through a grocer or box system reduces some of the share of the profit that the farmer would otherwise be receiving unless the box service is run by the actual farmer. Additionally there is no requirement to source local produce, so be sure to enquire about this when shopping with them.

Some organic box services that operate in and around Melbourne and are either run by the farmer or are transparent about their sourcing are:

Grown + Gathered (farmers)
Whole Larder Love – Rohan Anderson (farmer)
CERES Fair Food
Organic Empire
Cardinia Community Food Hub
Food Connect in Brisbane is also another great example of a farmer-led initiative

 

FOOD HUBS

A food hub is a business or organisation that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers in order to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand.

Food Hubs range in scale from volunteer-run buying groups using temporary spaces for receipt and packing of goods (like community or school halls, churches and garages) to permanent and well-established Hubs providing a variety of business, educational and/or food access services.

Unlike traditional distributors, food hubs are committed to maintaining transparency in their supply chain, sourcing products which have been ethically produced, providing fair prices to producers and identifying exactly where the final product came from.

Food Hubs play an important role because they make trading more efficient for the producer and the customer. Producers benefit because they can access a larger customer pool through the Hub than they could maintain alone. The Hub also takes care of tasks such as delivery and collecting payment, so the producer doesn’t have to. The consumer benefits from shopping at the hub because they can access a wide range of products, in one place, with low transaction/time costs.

Food Hubs can be the point from which delivery is coordinated to Buying Groups, Co-ops, Households and other businesses.

Examples of Food Hubs

Cardinia Community Food Hub
Food Connect
Ceres Fair Food
Baw Baw Food Hub

 

So where does Cardinia Community Food Hub fit in?

We are a Food Hub! 

We run a Local Food Box Program, sourcing food from farmers in and around the Cardinia Shire. Our food boxes are sourced from farms managed through either organic or regenerative agricultural practices. We pay a fair price for food, directly to the farmer, ensuring the money you spend on food supports the farmers who feed the community. 

 

 

REFERENCES
[1] ABS, Australian Social Trends 2012, Australian Farming and Farmers, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4102.0Main+Features10Dec+2012, viewed 3/2/3016
[2] ABC Fact Check, 24 October 2014, Fact check: Does a farmer die by suicide every four days in Australia as Bob Katter says? http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-16/farmer-suicide-rates-bob-katter-fact-check/5805450, viewed 3/2/2016
For more information and resources please visit Sustainable Table