The way we produce and consume food is influenced by methods that prioritize high yields and overproduction. This involves using large-scale intensive farming with lots of chemicals and fertilizers, supported by government subsidies. However, these practices have negative consequences. They lead to inefficiency due to crop losses used as animal feed and ongoing food waste throughout the supply chain. Moreover, this approach harms society and the environment by promoting socially and environmentally destructive practices. As a result, we end up consuming low-quality food, which can negatively impact our health.
Existing Hybrid Business Models
Alternative, “hybrid” business models, such as cooperatives, food hubs, community farms, pantries and other initiatives, which follow a cost accounting that take the real price of food seriously, can be found all across Yorkshire. Their models are often based on pursuing sufficient rather than maximised profits and on accepting smaller returns in the short term with the aim to build resilience along their supply chain, helping everyone involved in the supply chain, from those who grow and harvest the food, to those who consume it.
FixOurFood’s research is dedicated to develop in-depth insights on how these hybrid models work and how they can be scaled up and promoted for a future-resilient food system. The team is examining what the critical success factors are in setting up, governing, scaling up and managing these models. In addition, they are looking at how these innovations can be enhanced to create new approaches in finance and investment, to promote the transformation needed to make hybrid food economies the norm.
Three horizons to support systems change
Using the Three Horizons Futures Tool we carried out a series of workshops with key stakeholders from across the Yorkshire food system. The outcome of this process has been a collective and strategic understanding of how actions can be more effectively cohered to support systemic transformation. You can read about the results of this work in our Transformation of Yorkshire’s Food Economies Report. The results will inform our activities going forwards and compliment the activities outlined below which are already underway.
To find out more about Three Horizons, visit our Three Horizons to support systems change webpage
Grow It York
Grow It York is a multi award-winning indoor urban community farm in a shipping container in York city centre. The farm supplies hyper-local produce to the surrounding businesses and communities. It was built to investigate how vertical farming can play a role in creating positive change within our food systems, benefiting our health, environment and economy.
To find out more about the farm and our future plans go to the Grow It York website.
A key focal point for the team is to tackle poor food in institutional catering, and in public procurement more specifically. Exploring various models, we are conducting research with key actors in local authorities, food growers and business, to better understand and impact routes for more sustainable and healthier meal supply for all communities in Yorkshire. To understand and tackle the way school food is procured in Yorkshire, we have looked closely at the way school food is procured. You can read the resulting report ‘Public Sector Food Procurement Supply Chains leading to School Meals: The Case of Yorkshire. In addition to our learning from all this, we have also been running trials through our own institution.
Together with our partners, we are dedicated to share knowledge and support the design of new public procurement supply chains to institutions such as schools and holiday clubs as well as new business policy and financial tools to promote risk sharing and investment towards a regenerative food system.
We are working in close collaboration with local authorities and food partnerships from across Yorkshire and beyond, as well as the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Grow Yorkshire, to better understand transition opportunities to support future-proof businesses. While we continuously expand our network of hybrid businesses from across Yorkshire, deepen our understanding of the business models underlying their work, and actively drive the sharing of knowledge and establishment of networks through workshops, we are also collaborating internationally to support businesses who seek to transform their business models to support a future resilient food system.
Yorkshire Grain Alliance
The Yorkshire Grain Alliance is a collective of farmers, bakers, millers, traders, researchers, and community members committed to transforming the food system through a fundamentally different approach to grain production and consumption. By growing, processing, and supplying locally to customers, they showcase an alternative path. While Yorkshire communities already enjoy their products in various places across the country, the initiative is still in its early stages.
Follow and get in touch with the Yorkshire Grain Alliance on Instagram @yorkshiregrainalliance