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An independent food forum will bring together producers and encourage MK to buy more local groceries
Milton Keynes has a very limited local food culture. Only approximately 15 independent food producers are active within a 5 mile radius of the centre in Milton Keynes. Almost all residents shop at local big supermarket chains.
This creates the following problems:
1. ENVIRONMENT: The purchased food is not sustainably produced and delivered, but instead will have travelled hundreds to thousands of miles before reaching the customer.
2. TRANSPORT: As there are few local corner shops, people get used to driving to the next big supermarket, which is often between 3 and 5 miles away, rather than walking to a more local food outlet.
3. HEALTH: Supermarket food often includes an above-average amount of sugar, sweeteners, fat and other chemicals. In Milton Keynes, 3/4 of all adults and 1/3 of children are overweight or obese and unhealthy-food, readily available at the supermarkets, does not contribute to improving these figures.
In order to connect local people with more local food, we first have to connect the local food producers with each other. Once there is an established group of people who are willing to stand up for their trade, encourage others to join in and grow the local food independence, we can then come up with a plan to increase the reach of local food.
Here is the two step plan:
1. I would like to found the ‘Milton Keynes Indie Food Forum’, a meeting place for all local food producers. Initially, this place will exist as a monthly meeting and a website, where local food producers can exchange experiences and join forces to increase their reach. The forum will discuss questions about local food production, potentially mentor new producers and act as representatives of the local independent food scene. It will also act as a friendly networking place for anyone who would like to get involved with more local food. In time, the forum could apply for grants to plan outreach projects and other local food initiatives.
2. Once the forum has been established, I would like to propose the idea of a ‘Milton Keynes Indie Food Passport’, a brochure type passport, which includes descriptions and addresses of local food outlets (including directions and opening times) as well as general information on the forum. The passport would have a space where local food outlets could ‘stamp’ their own logo when a customer visits their stall/shop. This could encourage customers to discover new food outlets. The passport could also act as a ‘discount booklet’, offering holders 10% off (or similar). The first ‘prototype’ of the passports would run from November to January, encouraging winter sales.
Sustainably, the passports would act as an ‘investment’ in local food culture: They would cost approximately £10 to purchase and the passports' revenue could either be returned to the registered food producers in equal parts, or it could contribute to the MK Indie Food forum for projects and initiatives.