Cambridge Food Hub celebrates successful launch
Our current food system has taken millions from starvation and brought us a previously unimaginable range of food stuffs from across the world, but it is not perfect: from the scourge of food poverty – a 2014 study estimated 8.4 million people in the UK are ‘food insecure’ – to food waste – approximately one-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted. The vision of the Cambridge Food Hub is to create a local food system that does things differently.
The brain-child of Cambridge Sustainable Food and the Cambridge Organic Food Company, the Food Hub was first raised as an idea at a consultation meeting in 2013 on the topic of Cambridge’s inclusion in the Sustainable Food Cities network. Since then, the Food Hub has gained support from hundreds of Cambridgeshire residents; been discussed at conferences, including the Oxford Real Farming Conference; and received the backing of notable individuals within the world of food and sustainability. And now, as of a couple of weeks ago, the Food Hub is officially in operation.
By creating and coordinating a network (or an ‘ecosystem’) of individuals and businesses involved in the production and consumption of food, we believe we can reduce food waste, reduce health inequalities from unequal access to healthy produce, and reduce emissions from food transport. Part of this involves creating a distribution network where buyers can purchase local produce direct from the producers, which we are currently trialling through our platform on the Open Food Network. Our aim is to ensure that all produce that enters the Food Hub’s system goes somewhere it is valued, whether that is to a high-end restaurant or families on low incomes. We would also look to support any small food business that fills a ‘niche’ within the Food Hub ecosystem, for example, by using produce that might otherwise be wasted to create new products.
April 3rd was an exciting day for us, as we made our first deliveries of Hodmedod’s products to the Cambridge Cheese Company and Radmore Farm Shop. It’s a small beginning but every project has to start somewhere! Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be increasing the numbers of buyers using the Food Hub’s service and adding to the products sold through our shopfront, eventually moving on to fresh produce.
Further in the future, we are looking to create a physical Food Hub building – most likely in Northstowe, the Healthy New Town being built north-west of Cambridge. This building would feature space for food storage, kitchens for use by small businesses and for educational purposes, and a shop and café (focusing on delicious local produce/products, of course!). We would love the Food Hub to be a place for the community to come together, and one where people can reconnect with food.
We aim to operate in a way that is fair, progressive, and sustainable – our core values. Fair means that everyone benefits, from producers to buyers, and small businesses are not unfairly exploited by large supermarkets seeking to maximise profit. Progressive reflects our belief that the food system necessitates reform, and that embracing change is positive. Sustainable means that we aim to reduce environmental harm, maximise social benefit, and do so in a way that is economically viable.