We Can Break The Chain

Food Assembly, a method of buying and selling food which supports local producers and bypasses the large chains, has come to Woking, making affordable, local, fresh food available in weekly boxes.

Boxes containing orders from a variety of suppliers, placed online, can be collected from the Woking Food Assembly on Thursdays at the Lightbox gallery between 5-7 pm.

The pop-up pre-order food shopping system was pioneered in France as La Ruche Qui Dit Oui – “the hive that says yes” – and is a blend of farmer’s market and buying group.

Organisers sign up local producers and growers to the scheme, products are advertised on a local page, on the central Food Assembly website. Customers choose and pay for their selections online and collect their orders.

Frankly, I’ve balked at the prices for organic boxed vegetables and want to try and buy from local suppliers wherever possible – if I can afford to.

Food Assembly sounded a bit too Able & Cole to appeal to me but on closer inspection turned out to be a localized, grassroots initiative which depends utterly on the involvement of local people rather than a corporation.

Fresh, local food is not and should not be a middle class privilege – it takes time, money and effort to source food from a variety of local sources and very few people have the time to attempt this.

But the Food Assemblies are more than just about buying local food. The producers/suppliers, the assembly leader and the members (people buying food) meet regularly every week.

This is ideal for people who want to be connected to where their food comes from and fosters a real community spirit.

For food producers, there is the comfort of sales in advance and regular orders through an active channel and producers can avoid the very low prices offered them by the big chains – producers receive 83.3% of every sale compared with 10-15% with supermarkets).

There is convenience, choice and value as well as connection for the food buyers.

Woking’s Food Assembly: https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/9946

https://thefoodassembly.com/en/assemblies/9946

There are 17 food suppliers listed so far in Woking’s Food Assembly offering fresh bread, eggs, meat, fish, fruit and vegetables, spices, nut pastes, wine and much more.

There are now over 500 assemblies in France and Belgium, and the company is launching across Europe. In France, there are 2,600 producers listed on the online platform and together they sell around 50,000 orders each month to the members. The rules of the assembly state that food must be kept local: there’s a 150-mile radius rule that says food sold must come within this maximum distance. Produce doesn’t have to be exclusively organic but there’s a strong emphasis on produce from small-scale enterprises, which practice high eco standards.

The idea originated in 2010, when French entrepreneurs Guilhem Chéron, Marc-David Choukroun and Mounir Mahjoubi co-founded a company called Equanum SAS having developed the concept of the Food Assembly in a French startup incubator and it is this company, Equanum, which runs the Food Assembly platform. Earlier this year, Equanum raised approximately €1.5m in debt in 2014 from the Caisse Des Depots, the Paris Initiative Enterprise and BNP Paribas and it also receives subsidies from the Ile De France region.

Recruitment of the assembly leaders focuses on individuals who are committed to about helping their own neighbourhood access local food. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, though it can earn a second income. Typically assembly leaders are those who want to buy healthy, local food for their families and 80% are women.

Become a member of the hive that likes to say yes.

Break the chain.

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