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News from the farm   |   Ethical business

Did we choose this?

In 2019, you can have whatever you want, whenever and wherever you want it. Do those with money in their pockets feel truly empowered, free to express themselves and defined by their buying choices?

Retailers work themselves into a frenzy to keep up with ever more ‘demanding’ customers – spiralling closer to each other in a race to the bottom. What is sold to us as choice is really passive consumption, directed more from without (through brand, marketing promotions, and availability) than chosen according to our intrinsic values.

Consider a spectrum where one extreme is, say, a market with stalls of unpackaged, irregular, seasonal food, sold by people who produce (or at least know and care about) what they are selling, where human relationships are part of the shopping experience – and the other extreme is the aisles of Asda and Sainsbury’s.

The vast majority of food retail is clustered at the soul-sapping end of the spectrum, wrecking our planet, our health and our society in a way that few of us, offered full information or any meaningful alternative (both conditions of an effective market) would choose.

The choices we are offered are the ones our model of highly centralised, large-scale, dehumanised retailers can control and profit from.

Sadly, authentic, healthy, unadulterated food, produced with sensitivity for people, animals and the environment, is very hard to make money from. Such food is out there, but too often hidden behind noisy brands with deep pockets to market themselves. It all makes me so mad I have even written a poem about it alongside the co-owner who edits this newsletter.

During September we are running a campaign encouraging people to ask difficult questions and make informed choices about the food they buy. As part of this, we hope to hear what inspires you, our customers, to choose organic veg boxes.

Why #IChoose Riverford

There are three ways to help us spread the organic word. Share your reason on Instagram, or in our new Facebook community Riverford Tribe, using the hashtag #IChoose. Or, look out for our #IChoose veg boxes, designed for you to write your reason straight onto the box and pass it on. Find out more at choose.riverford.co.uk/ichoose.

    Comments

    James Barling

    2 Weeks 3 Days

    Just so true! I try to shop locally, but finding organic produce is difficult, which is why I use Riverford to supplement what I grow myself - I can't claim to be organic as I have been here only 3 years, but I don't use any chemicals and mostly work by hand where that is possible. My previous property I grew most of my vegetables for some 30 years without chemicals.. Almost self sufficient on my acre of land except during the hunger gap, but age has forced me to downsize.

    0 Reply

    Janet Green

    2 Weeks 2 Days

    This is my passion too. I grow my own organic food during the spring and summer months and subsidise with Riverford. I rely utterly on Riverford in the winter. I make my own bread and yogurt and try to be resource aware in all respects. Everything I make is from scratch and I enjoy the creativity of that. I am so very pleased that I can buy top quality vegetables and more from such an ethnical grower and supplier.

    0 Reply

    Guy Singh-Watson

    Self-confessed veg nerd, Guy Singh-Watson has over the last 30 years taken Riverford from one man and a wheelbarrow delivering homegrown organic veg to friends, to a national veg box scheme delivering to around 50,000 customers a week. Guy is an opinionated and admired figure in the world of organic farming, who still spends more time in the fields than in the boardroom. Twice awarded BBC Radio 4 Farmer of the Year, Guy is passionate about sharing with others the organic farming and business knowledge he has accumulated over the last three decades. His video rants have provided a powerful platform to do this, with a video on pesticides going viral on Facebook to reach 5.6 million views and 91,000 shares. His weekly veg box newsletters connect customers to the farm with refreshingly honest accounts of the trials and tribulations of producing organic food, and the occasional rant about farming, ethical and business issues he feels strongly about. In June 2018, Guy handed over the reins of Riverford to its staff, choosing employee ownership as the model that will protect Riverford's ethical values forever and ensure the security of its employees.  

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    Do consumers have a choice?

    Guy Singh-Watson on how the market is not giving people the choice they truly want – the choice to be part of the solution, not the problem.

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