The Food Assembly

Where Food is Powered by People

Monday 8 June 2015

2 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

The Food Assbembly is an iniciative about local consumption that facilitates the direct selling of quality products betweens local producers and consumers. Founded in France by Guilhem Chéron, the company has now over 700 assemblies and has expanded to various European countries thanks to similar food regulations. The company works by providing an online platform in which consumers can pre-order their produce from local farmers. Every week then, an Assembly takes place in a local venue. Buyers get to collect their orders and meet both the people behind their food and their neighbours. The thing about TFA is that its main goal is to share. Share, in an ethical and sustainable way: profits, products, opinions and even recepies because it works as a social space for the neigbourhood. Aside from setting up the logistics, TFA monitors and thus guarantees that products are grown sustainably, not further than 150 miles from where you live and that farmers are paid fairly by allowing them to set their own prices. Farmers get to keep around 80% of their profits, with just an 8.35% fee paid to TFA and another 8.35% paid to the host (entrepreneur who organized the pick-up market).
Under this system, everyone wins: communities get to know each other, farmers get a fairer price for their work, and consumers get locally sourced, unique produce.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

All this information is exceptionally easy to gather form their website which shows complete trasnparency and equity. This is exactly one of the main ethical issue in the industry itself: lack of transparency. The food business seems to have become a race for profits, rather than a race to deliver the most decent product to the consumer. In other words, the food industry has completly neglected the importance of food quality and production standards. At TFA, founders and workers all wants to promote a more local and fair production. More so, they wish to become a social link between all the parties, which is considerabily important given that the industry is evoloving to a less comunicative and less sustainable way of doing business. TFA is the perfect alternative. Aside from transparency, the main ethical issues it is facing are the unfair distribution of profits, the over-exploitation of land and animals, the poor quality of products due to human induced change and the exploitative labor practices.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

There are two types of companies in this world. On one hand we have those that start out as for-profit organizations and later incorporare some sort of CSR to meet the “ethical” standard. For these companies, “ethicality” is peripheral to their operations.
On the other hand we have companies in which, since their creation, social and environmental values are a natural and central part of doing business. We believe TFA fits this category. As it is seen all over its website, it follows a line of business where profit is not only the main goal of its activity. A company which seems to care more about what they give rather than what they recieve in exchange.
Of course, it is hard to trust a company which you only know from their online presence. Thus, we visited one of the bakeries in Barcelona that participates in this project (La Colmena Slowmov). The bakery’s owner confirmed everything we have been talking about so far. So, we concluded that TFA can be trusted because their operation revolve around 5 central values: transparency, cooperation, transition, social entrepreneurship and creativity. The Food Assembly is, in essence, a platform which connects local farmers with consumers. However, we believe it is much more than that. And that is what makes it truly outstanding.
The Food Assembly is a movement. A movement to bring grocery shopping back to basics, back to its roots. A movement to consientisize people about the importance of fair buying, healthy eating and community ties. In our opinion, it is a movement wich proudly combines the use of 21st century technology, with old-school traditions. A movement wich revitalizes the currently foresaken ideas of “home, love and true care.”


D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

TFA is competing against multinational coorporations which’s resources and lobbying budgets out run their’s by far. The company faces challanges like mantaining their fair distribution of profits. As the company grows, it is important that they keep true to their initial mission. More so, mantaining quality and being able to monitor and audit that all farmers involved in the operation are abiding by the TFA’s sustainable standards.
Most cutomers sometimes prefer large supermaket chains because they have convenient locations, so The Food Assembly needs to be able to grow their supply of assemblies if they really want to take their vision to most people. Logistics, of course, are key to the company. Setting up thousands of assemblies around the world is no easy task. Thus, TFA needs to expand its networking and partnerships so that operations keep running in the right direction. Finally, although it is understandable that the company is first focusing on European markets, most of the ethical issues they are tackling (such as exploitative labor practices) are ten times worse in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It would be satisfying to see TFA eventually reach these places and change their patterns of buying and consumption as well.

Bibliography

"The Food Assembly." The Food Assembly. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 June 2015. <https://thefoodassembly.com/en> .

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2 Discussions / 2 Messages

  • The Food Assembly 15 June 2015 at 11:07 , by Tom Christiaens

    Unfortunately there are no possibilities in the Netherlands to buy from Food assembly. During my stay in Barcelona, I will definitely try the different shops of Food Assembly to test the products and the process. There are severel shops near my place, which offers for example, onions which has been harvest a day before delivery!

    I’m only wondering if there is any auditing or check on the products offered and the farmers which offers the products? I think the website is quite vulnerable to be used for advertisement purposes.

  • The Food Assembly 15 June 2015 at 13:53 , by Madeleine

    This company is very inspiring as it overcomes the problems of in-transparency in the food industry.
    In general, food for me is an important part in my life and I enjoy cooking and informing me about food. However, it is very time demanding and difficult to make sure to buy local food that was grown in a sustainable way. Especially, the shops around my place only have a limited range of products and sometimes I have to go to four stores to get ingredients for one dish.

    Buying my groceries from a company that offers me the possibility to do all my grocery shopping in one place, where I can also see where the food is coming from, is an amazing option for me.

Official website: https://thefoodassembly.com/en

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