As a long-standing supplier to Village Greens Community Coop and in light of the recent documentary series, ‘War on Waste’ by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, we at Organic North thought it pertinent to issue a brief statement regarding our position on the key issues highlighted.
Firstly, we would like to point out that we operate and have always operated in complete contrast to the contemptible supermarket-led supply chains that promote the ritual disposal of colossal amounts of perfectly edible food. Indeed, the disheartening truths that were highlighted by the documentaries were some of the very reasons that Organic North was initially founded. We have always abhorred the systematic waste that is built-in to such food-models and as such, we work very closely with our long-standing growers and suppliers to ensure that waste is not only kept to a minimum, but removed almost entirely from our supply model altogether*. We achieve this by employing a number of methods that include slow business growth, pre-season crop-planning with our farmers and crucially, by taking weekly pre-orders from all of our customers.
To expand upon that last point a little further, both supermarkets and wholesalers alike (‘conventional’ and organic) invariably elect to speculate on whole pallets/containers of produce. This can be more profitable as with stronger bulk-buying power, such organisations are able to bargain for lower prices from farmers/producers. However, without knowing exactly what they are going to sell, built-in waste (as well as old, under-par produce) immediately becomes a factor of this model. By taking weekly pre-orders from our customers before sourcing them fresh from our growers, quite uniquely, we are able to ensure that in a matter of hours after reaching us, every single box/bag of produce that arrives already has a happy home to go to.
Naturally, like many who saw the documentaries, we were also saddened, though not surprised, to witness the depressing plight of the Hammond family’s 3rd generation parsnip farm. Via the routine cancellation of orders, the rejection of all-but-perfect-sized produce and the persistent economic pressures applied to farms like theirs by supermarkets, many growers up and down the country are really struggling to survive. We find this behaviour of the supermarkets reprehensible and this is why Organic North has never and will never be in the business of cancelling orders with farms. Likewise, rather than dictate or attempt to drive down the prices to the growers, conversely, we often advise farms on the going market price of their produce in a bid to help them sell as much as they can of what they have grown. Lastly, as customers of Village Greens will already be aware, we also have as much love for the wonky parsnip as we do for the straight one.
So keep supporting your local Coop in Prestwich and rest assured in the knowledge that the fresh, organic produce that they supply comes from ethically-run, happy farms that are being fairly treated.
*every now and then there will be a box or two that arrives in looking tired from its time in transport to us. These are either snapped up by our appreciative staff or made into wines by ‘Bob’, our famed warehouseman.