Our Buying Policy
At Ffestiniog Veg Box we are committed to sourcing produce as sustainably and ethically as possible. We use our buying policy as a way of monitoring and maintaining our commitment to sourcing produce via the most ethical and sustainable sources. Our buying policy is based in a set of general principles that provide our ethos:
1) Sustainable growing practice:
We believe that in order to have a beneficial environmental impact all produce must be grown using sustainable growing techniques. We define this as organic, biodynamic, ‘wild’ or in some cases community projects that create more growing spaces in the local area. i.e. those which do not increase the amounts of artificial chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides in our food and the environment, but which rely on sound soil and wildlife management.
2) Local production:
The closer that fresh produce is grown to where it is eaten, the greater the environmental benefit will be, as reducing the distance a food has to travel to get from where it is produced to where it is consumed, reduces the environmental impact of transporting that food. We also take into account the method of transportation eg air, ship, train or lorry. How close produce is grown to where it is eaten also has benefits in terms of freshness, nutrition and flavour.
3) Small-scale of operation:
We believe that small scale operations have particular environmental and
social benefits: they tend to be family based, employ more local people and contribute more directly to the economic and social well being of the local area. Small-scale sustainable producers however are less likely to have the time, capital or labour to access further funding or to make investments which will ensure their economic sustainability. By prioritising these producers we can make a direct contribution to their survival and the diversity and sustainability of the food chain.
4) Seasonal consumption:
In a similar vein, if that produce is ‘in season’, the more likely it is to have been grown
reasonably locally. And again, there are benefits in terms of the freshness and the quality of
the food. It is possible to extend the natural season of crops by growing them under cover and we would certainly approve of this in order to increase the availability of produce throughout the year, but if this involves artificial heating, then the environmental benefit of how close that product is being grown is likely to be outweighed by the environmental cost of providing the necessary heating. By contrast, food that is available in our shops that is not in season must have travelled from somewhere where it is in season. Seasonal consumption can help to ensure the environmental impact of food we eat is kept to a minimum.
5) Ecological resource use and Fair trade:
We can maximise our impact by ensuring that our projects use resources wisely by reusing,
recycling and specifying environmentally friendly materials whenever possible and ensuring
that any trade we conduct with developing countries is fair.
In practice, balancing all these different principles is tricky and involves weighing up a number of different considerations reflected in our buying policy. Sadly, we have not yet discovered a magic formula which tells us exactly how to do this! We rely on common sense, integrity and feedback from the community to enable us to balance these principles while continuing to live in the real world……..
The policy is regularly reviewed and continues to evolve to reflect and positively influence the external context in which we work.
The principles outlined on the previous page are reflected in our current buying policy as follows:
· Using Organic suppliers supplemented with produce from local community projects
· No air freighted produce
· No hothouse produce
· Produce from as close as possible
· Strictly Limited lines from outside Europe*
After that we operate a hierarchy of purchasing:
1. Buy direct from small local and regional farmers for produce that can be grown in the UK.
2. Buy direct from large local and regional farmers for produce that can be grown in the UK.
3. Buy from Europe for produce which could be grown in the UK as staple or main crops but which are in short supply – this is particularly relevant during the ‘Hungry Gap’ eg onions, apples, pears.
4. At certain times of the year buy produce from Europe that is not grown as a main crop in the UK or cannot be grown in the UK at all, this is sourced from as close to the UK as possible eg: red peppers, grapes, oranges.
5. Buy a strictly limited range of produce that is not available from European producers from trusted Organic and Fairtrade sources*
* We make an exception for bananas, ginger, garlic, dates and pineapples – we consider it better for our customers to access these via our trusted supply routes rather than supplement by sourcing these items via less sustainable or ethical routes. We therefore purchase these from outside Europe from a reputable certified Organic and Fairtrade source who transport the produce by ship.