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We are promoting ‘use your LOAF’, as the mantra to inform food purchasing. Not only does this catchy acronym help us to think about ethical purchasing, it has its roots in sustainable living. The LOAF principle was developed by a group of Christian ecologists. It is not a new idea, it was launched 15 years ago. It is easy to remember, and can be a personal check when making food choices.
LOAF stands for
As we all know, it is possible to eat strawberries in winter and mangos whenever we want. Multinational companies ensure a constant food supply to huge supermarkets. We don’t even need to know what season it is when we plan our meals. But the price of this food is air and lorry mileage.
So how in practice do we support, purchase, and eat local food? As a general rule, follow 'the proximity principle'. Avoid air freight. Buy seasonal fruit and veg from your own bio-region. Greengrocers, butchers, cheese and fish shops, markets and farm shops are ideal sources. During the spring 'food gap', when freshness is scarce and expensive, you may have to source from further afield, so Chile or Spain may be the next choice. Then of course, the other way is to grow your own!
“Organic growing works with and not against nature, organic growers resonate with the rest of the soil community, supplying humus, leaf mould, other organic residues, and harvested rain to the soil. Organic growers feed, nourish, cultivate, protect, and encourage the soil.”
If you have already opted to be a vegetarian, or vegan, this one may be a redundant consideration. Indeed, there have been some vehement voices about cutting out meat from diets as being the ‘only way to go’. But choosing to be ‘animal friendly’ means we make choices to buy local, humanely reared and culled meat and fish, eschewing intensification, lorry transport, and distant, impersonal abattoirs.
There will always be food that cannot be produced, in quantity, in north western Europe, including bananas, citrus fruits, dates, cocoa, olives, pineapples, cranberries, tea, and coffee. Here too the LOAF principles apply. Fairtrade not only means that the growers receive a fair price for their cocoa beans, but that other environmental factors are considered. The Fairtrade mark is only given if certain environmental standards are met, and the standard is high.
Food is not only a justice issue, but food is a climate issue. If we can aim to make our weekly shop local, organic, animal friendly and fairly traded, then we can have a significant impact on the climate as well as our neighbour.
So why not use your LOAF next time you do your shopping!
Information adapted from http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/loaf-principles.htm