• 22/03/13
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By Mike Small

It’s difficult to get ‘balance’ in a world that is so out of kilter. As we enter the ‘hungry gap’ – that time between spring foods becoming available and the drop-off of winter veg – eating locally can seem hard. It is. Especially in a society that thinks this is not important.

Fife Diet emerged around the same time and with a lot of the same thinking as Growing Communities in London. In fact we seemed to hit on the 80/20 idea together, but what they’ve managed to do is to produce this amazing graphic that describes it.

Some people come to this rationally, some people instinctively. It doesn’t matter. This isn’t about purity, it’s about clarity. Eat local and seasonal, when you can’t then show solidarity through fair and feral trade: 80/20.

The important thing is not to focus on the equation but the criteria. Why would you choose something from further afield? There’s good reasons and bad reasons.

Growing Communities writes: “The Food Zones shows what type of food could best come from where and is an initial attempt to illustrate what percentage of our food we might aim to source from different zones: starting with the urban areas in which most of us live and applying a kind of food subsidiarity – raising what it is best to raise as close as we can.

The Food Zones shows what type of food could best come from where and is an initial attempt to illustrate what percentage of our food we might aim to source from different zones: starting with the urban areas in which most of us live and applying a kind of food subsidiarity – raising what it is best to raise as close as we can and then moving outwards taking into account the principles outlined earlier and the factors shown below.

Food zones diagram

 

Growing Communities has a wider vision of what a sustainable, resilient food system might look like which encompasses our key principles while aiming to reduce the amount of oil and fossil fuels it takes to feed us.

Our vision can be expressed in the form of a diagram – the Growing Communities’ Food Zones.  It shows what type of food could best come from where and is an initial attempt to illustrate what percentage of our food we need to source from different zones.

It starts with the urban areas in which most of us live and moves outwards applying a kind of food subsidiarity. Raising what we can as close as we can taking into account a number of factors, e.g. soil type, climate, what grows best where, size of plots available, infrastructure and transport links available, the degree of mechanisation that makes most sense, and the perishability of the produce.

It’s based on human-scale, organic, mixed farms located in and around urban areas which are directly connected to the urban communities they feed and which enable those communities to source increasing amounts of food from close to where they live.

It’s built around the idea of community sized ‘building blocks’ which encompass positive but appropriately scaled trading relationships starting from the local and working out to global and which enable urban producers, small farmers, producer co-ops, larger farms and food imports to exist in harmony.”

 

Special thanks to Julie Brown and everyone at Growing Communities #solidarity