In my previous article I extensively described my experiences with food waste at Lentil as Anything. I think my opinion is rather clear: our system is completely upside down and big changes need to happen in the next 10 years. Everybody needs to play his or her role in this transition. It set me to think on what my role could be. I can envision multiple things: supporting the transition to building with more natural materials or something related to food, gardening and zero waste.
An idea came into my mind. What if it would be possible to set up a store that only sells local products, that are in season, support zero waste and are organic? In my mind this means mostly vegetables and fruits but not necessarily has to be. What kind of opportunities and difficulties will this face?
Well are people ready to change? I’m even wondering if I’m able to change to such a concept as I’m really enthusiastic in exploring new ingredients. I think it must be gradual process from using less and less products that are imported and using more local products. It does mean for example that exotic fruits as bananas and mangoes are not in the diet anymore. Instead, plumps, pears, apples and all kinds of berries will be eaten. In season means that we have to go back to our age old preservation methods: putting it in glass jars, using fermentation (think of sauerkraut), drying products, and making lots of jams. Delicious if you ask me.
Another thing is that consumers are extremely price conscious. Organic locally produced products in the Netherlands will be expensive. What would it take to bring everybody on board? I would say there are two ways to deal with this. First, you accept the high prices and target consumers that are willing to pay for our planet. Second, you can create an artificial low price, let’s say at price level of organic products in the bigger supermarkets, and try to break even with another business model. Let’s explore a few ideas.
I think combining this with education is an easy way. Workshops, advice, information sessions, etc. People can pay to visit these. Maybe creating a local community of people that like to share ideas and work towards a better future. There is an opportunity to work directly with the farmers in the area. This can function as their platform to spread knowledge, improve crop yield, reduce impact and educate the people on farming.
What I find most important is that we need to reach everybody, also people with low income, to improve our world. I’m eager to investigate opportunities in having low prices and still make it a viable business. Of course I could be completely wrong in my assumptions, especially regarding the influence of price on buying decisions. Another thing is that I’m not aware on how far shops as Ekoplaza (or other eco stores) are in realizing this concept.
It was just a thought that came up in a busy hot bus ride on Bali ;). Feel free to reach out to me with suggestions and feedback. I see this as a discussion starter!