A new way to write a manifesto

23rd February 2013

The principles by which a business operates are often agreed by a small team, who cast them in stone very early on. But this sets a dangerous precedent for a business. In an age of rapid change and fast-evolving ways of managing a discussion with the many, we must learn to revisit both the method we use to articulate our purpose and our willingness to change the details. If nothing else, it seems a big oversight not to get your customers’ ongoing input.

And in no business could this be truer than one that helps people buy food. The horsemeat scandal has brought us to another chapter in an ongoing discussion around the provenance of our food.

But it seems like the battle lines of the established debate need to be partly re-drawn to open a more holistic debate, which asks what a sustainable food system looks like. One that leaves the next generation with an ecosystem that is intact, but also feeds this one.

We are in very complicated territory here. How do biofuels, zero-tilling agriculture, and GM all get on? Each are celebrated by quarters of the sustainability community, but totally rejected by others. I don’t think anyone has the perfect unifying theory, but we need an ongoing discussion.

We’ve detailed some of our beliefs on the web site (and there’s some rigour to these thoughts), but we really want to start a conversation with you.

One belief that we’re going to struggle to change is that the supermarkets do not play a role in a sustainable food future. And that improved local food systems are not going to be a big part of the answer. But we appreciate there’s complexity here. And we want to talk.

Here’s a few questions to get you going:

  1. The price of food: do you think we have to accept sustainable production of staples will mean higher costs?
  2. The quality of food: Should we have higher legal standards in identifying the ingredients of food products and allowing certain ingredients.
  3. Poor diets and obesity: Do we have an epidemic on our hands? Should government legislate? Should FarmDrop refuse to allow certain products to be sold on the platform?
  4. Feeding the 9.5bn: Do you believe this number? How will it impact our diets?
  5. I want beef too: Can we stop an emerging middle class in the BRIC countries valuing this “trophy” food?

Let us know what you think. We’d love to know and there’s obviously much more to come. One thing is clear, and that’s that we’re all in this together. The supermarkets don’t have the appetite for an honest conversation with their customers. But we reckon you do.

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