Lancaster’s Food Assembly is now up and trading. As I type, local produce is on sale onine, and every Wednesday evening from 18:30-20:30 you can find a huddle of local farmers, producers and customers in the White Cross pub. To join this small and growing community all you need to do is become a member by visiting The Food Assembly website and signing up. Alternatively you could come to the next wednesday collection and ask for more information.

Two weeks ago I went to the Food Assembly launch and taster evening. After seeing and tasting the range of delicious produce on offer, I started to wonder how our Food Assembly in Lancaster differs from the hundreds across France, Belgium and Germany?I presented this question to Kathleen at the UK ‘mother assembly’. Kathleen CassidyKathleen stated: The Food Assembly was born in  France, and is now enabling direct trade between  local producers and communities in four more  countries: Belgium, Spain, Germany and the UK.  Whilst the model remains the same in each  country (producers always receive 83.3% of the  product price), Assemblies do vary between  countries and also within countries. One of the  key ingredients to the model is flexibility – each Assembly evolves according to the conditions it grows in, much like a plant!”

“Differences that have emerged at a country level include variations in the kinds of produce available. This is caused by differences in geography and cuisine, and differences in demand for certain kinds of produce. For example, in France there has not been much demand for produce beyond fruit and vegetables, bread, eggs and dairy, meat and fish”.

“In the UK, however, it appears there is also demand for healthy, handmade and locally sourced cooked food such as quiches, fresh pasta, salads and soups. This is a key difference between farmers’ markets in France (mostly fresh food) and Britain (a mix of fresh and cooked food), which may be down to differences in approach to work-life balance, with people in France working shorter weeks on average and having more time for cooking as a result”.

“Assemblies also vary across the UK due to different venues (from a community cafe in Frome to a cooperatively owned pub in London); different neighbourhoods, and differences in the people involved in making them what they are- the Host, the Producers and the Members”.

Are you a member of Lancaster’s Food Assembly? What do you think of the scheme so far?

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