There is no day going by without shocking headlines about food scandals – worldwide. This is one of the reasons, why consumers increasingly mistrust wonderfully packaged, perfectly marketed food and other type of consumer goods on the shelves. Most of us have absolutely no idea, how the food we eat is produced, made and processed. Even information about the origin is sometimes misleading, too. Have you ever wondered, who grows the orange, tomato or apple that you eat, or if farmers and workers are able to live off the work they do? How about milk and bread, meat and fish?
Luckily, there is a trend that can be spotted in many regions of the world: more and more consumers would like to know exactly what they actually eat and drink or put on their skin and prefer to buy locally grown & produced goods. Not everybody has a huge garden or farming land, not everybody has a green thumb to be able to grow fruits, vegetables to cover his own needs and not even speaking about keeping animals. But some of us have the desire to at least know the person who grows the fruits and vegetables we eat, who takes good care of the animals, whose meat land on our plates.
There are some grassroots movements and local initiatives that aim to offer an alternative to conscious customers by bringing together farmers and producers with end-customers. Such a non-profit organization is for example Szatyor in Hungary (szatyor means shopping bag in Hungarian.) Founders of Szatyor are professionals formerly active in the food trade business who wanted to leave behind the sole profit-oriented aspect of the industry. It is widely known that pure cost of a product is a fraction of the retail price that consumers pay at the end, as the entire industry is set up à la ‘buy cheap and sell as expensive as possible’. This results in ridiculously low prices that farmers will get for their hard work and customers pay way too high prices to sustain the entire process of this circle – not even thinking of the food quality.
Szatyor is an organization as well as it has its own shops, too. The idea of Szatyor is very simple: find small & mid sized farmers and food producers in a range of 50-70 km area, who grow organic fruits & vegetables and make the food without additives and chemicals. Customers can place their orders for fresh produce via the internet and pick it up a couple of days later in their local Szatyor store. This way only the quantity ordered will make it to the shops that definitely will be sold, hence their is no margin needed to cover the retailer’s loss for unsold products. Szatyor also organizes get-togethers, where farmers and producers can introduce themselves and have direct conversations with their end-customers. It provides a great opportunity for direct feedbacks as well as customers will have a better understanding about farming and food producing. Sometimes customers are even inspired by farmers and start their own small gardens…
Szatyor as an organization supports other local initiatives and helps to set up the local supply chain at several locations across Hungary. It is a community of like-minded people, who do things together on a voluntarily basis to support an environmentally friendly, sustainable lifestyle and educate each other about the ‘whys‘, ‘hows‘ ‘dos‘ and ‘don’ts‘. Founded early 2012, Szatyor has quickly found a wide follower basis: these are people, who do not believe in fancy, bling-bling marketing anymore, but appreciate simple things in life, such as a good tasting tomato or a tasty fresh bread that lasts maybe for a week, not just for a day.
We are always so cautious about how we look, what we wear, what we say and what the neighbor thinks of us. But knowing exactly, what we eat and drink has not been on the priority list for a long time or the focus has rather shifted. At the end of the day, we – literally – are what we eat, so it is up to us to take better care of ourselves and dedicate more time to choose our everyday food and drinks. Szatyor and similar organizations’ mission is exactly that: to make us more aware of our own consumer behavior habits and to create a win-win situation for producers and consumers alike.
For more information please visit the website of the Szatyor organization or that of the store Szatyorbolt (both only in Hungarian). Alternatively, you can visit the Facebook page of Szatyorbolt or the open Facebook group of Szatyor organization.
Source of images: courtesy of Szatyorbolt.