More and more people are ditching the supermarket in their quest for seasonal, local market goods. ‘100% local’ and ‘KMZero’ stickers on avocados are no longer enough for consumers who want to know where their food is coming from – often to the kilometre – and even the characters and stories behind their fruit and veg.
The Food Assembly allows this experience without having to wander around a farmers’ market. It promises the freshest food directly from your local farmers and food producers – all from within 150 miles from where you live. But typically it’s much more local than that.
The main aim is to offer a more independent and efficient way of distributing food locally, which focuses on direct sales and fair prices for farmers and foodmakers.
Launched in Toulouse, France in 2011 by culinary designer Guilhem "If I were a vegetable, I would be a fennel" Chéron and web project manager Marc-David Choukroun, The Food Assembly is a novel system of sourcing and selling local food from farmers and foodmakers – while strengthening the relationship to their consumers and connecting the community through food.
The scheme uses an online platform to assemble little food-buying hubs, called ‘Food Assemblies’. You order from a selection of locally-sourced products online and then head to one of the pre-order pop-up markets where the producers gather to collect your goods and meet them first hand. The two-hour weekly event is coordinated by ‘Assembly Leaders’. “The main aim is to offer a more independent and efficient way of distributing food locally, which focuses on direct sales and fair prices for farmers and foodmakers,” they tell us.
“Thanks to our technology, organisers anywhere in Europe can start a local food community using our technology and platform and create an online shop where local producers can upload their products.” The site offers farmers online tools to accounting and customer analytics – and the knowledge that their food is guaranteed to be sold. No standing around for long hours at a market.
In France, where it is known as La Ruche Qui Dit Oui (the hive that says yes), the network has grown to more than 700 assemblies with more than 3,000 farmers, and receives between 5-10 requests to be Assembly Leaders every day. The Food Assembly also operates in Belgium and recently launched in Germany, Spain and the UK.
Farmers and foodmakers pay a service charge equivalent to 16.7 percent of their pre-tax turnover, which is four times better than what they could get from a supermarket chain. Half of that goes to provide a small commission-based income for the Assembly Leader and the other half goes to The Food Assembly to maintain and develop the Internet platform. Everyone is happy to cut out the middlemen for a small, but delicious, slice of the freshest pie.
Click here to see if there's a Food Assembly in your area yet.