A new way of buying your groceries is catching on; One that is local, social, and better for the environment.

The Food Assembly is a new food buying model that uses the internet to connect customers with their local producers, their neighbours and the environment.

With the help of the internet, it blends farmers’ markets, food box schemes and community supported agriculture. You order what you want online from week to week, or not if you want to skip a week. The producers know in advance what to bring to a regular pick-up point, often a local school or sports centre.

 

 

Without much of a middleman, food producers are better paid. And happier, according to Belinda Torres-Leclercq, spokesperson for the 100 assemblies in Belgium. That is no surprise. Farming has become an increasingly lonely profession as machines have replaced teams of farm workers.

Assemblies are good for us. Some benefits are obvious: the food is fresher, healthier and often cheaper than the supermarkets. Others are less obvious: there is less plastic packaging, less food miles, more socialising.

They are growing fast. Just three years after starting, there are now 300 producers serving 102,000 members (shoppers) in Belgium. Rapid growth has been driven in part by factory food scandals and health scares, according to Belinda.

If there is a downside, it could be that you do not have one near you. But with plenty of advice and support waiting to help you start your own, this shouldn’t stop you.