Since power and profit in food lie entirely in the exchange between producer and consumer, I am always on the lookout for interesting new food network models. I was delighted, therefore, to be invited to visit Flanders recently, where a scheme called ‘Voedselteams’, or Foodteams, has been operating with great success for the past ten years.
The scheme works like this: a group of households in one neighbourhood (usually between 10-20 in number) decide to set up a Foodteam. They then register on the Foodteams website, where they can choose from a list of local organic producers of fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy, bread, and even wine. The food is ordered online, and the producers deliver once a week to a variety of locations, including members’ garages (as in the photo above), community kitchens, medical centres and so on. Members then take it turns to sort out the deliveries and organise the pick-ups, which typically take place in a two-hour weekly evening slot. Members and producers meet once a year, to review the scheme and discuss their approach for the following year.
Membership costs just €10 per year, for which members not only get to eat tasty, local, seasonal and ethical food, but learn more about their food too. They forge links with their farmers, who often send notes with their produce, with background information, hints and recipes. Members also get to know one another through the scheme, and many now socialise outside the Foodteam context. With 70 producers supplying 90 Foodteams in Flanders, the success of the scheme is evident, and there are plans to extend it to the rest of Belgium, and indeed further afield.
For more information, visit the Foodteams Website: Voedselteams