‘100% local’ and ‘KMZero’ stickers on avocados are no longer enough for consumers who want to know where their food is coming from – often to the kilometre – and even about the characters and stories behind their fruit and veg. La Ruche qui dit Oui (The Food Assembly) promises the freshest food directly from your local farmers and food producers – all from within 150 miles from where you live. But typically it’s much more local than that.
Launched in Toulouse, France, in 2011 by culinary designer Guilhem Chéron and web project manager Marc-David Choukroun, La Ruche Qui Dit Oui (the hive that says yes) is a novel system of sourcing and selling local food from farmers and foodmakers – while strengthening the relationship to their consumers and connecting the community through food.
“The main aim is to offer a more independent and efficient way of distributing food locally, which focuses on direct sales and fair prices for farmers and foodmakers.”
The scheme uses an online platform to assemble little food-buying hubs, promoting direct exchanges between local producers and consumer communities that meet regularly in a café, an auditorium, a school, a cultural centre, a garden or a barn. You order from a selection of locally-sourced products online and then head to one of the pre-order “pop-up markets” where the producers gather to collect your goods and meet them first hand.
The site offers farmers online tools to accounting and customer analytics – and the knowledge that their food is guaranteed to be sold. No standing around for long hours at a market. “Thanks to our technology, organisers anywhere in Europe can start a local food community using our technology and platform and create an online shop where local producers can upload their products.”
In France, the network has grown to more than 10,000 active producers, and more than 210,000 members order regularly in Europe. The Food Assembly also operates in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Catalonia, the Netherlands and the UK.
To further expand its community of citizen-eaters, they have created a home delivery service in Paris. In a few months, ‘La Ruche à la Maison’ has become one of the leaders in home delivery in its sector, in Paris and Île-de-France, with 6,000 regular customers.
The producer freely fixes a selling price and pays service charges that correspond to 20% of its turnover excluding tax, which is four times better than what they could get from a supermarket chain. A small part goes to the ‘assembly organiser’ and another goes to La Ruche qui dit Oui to maintain and develop the Internet platform.
Across Europe, there are 80 people responsible, mostly in France, working to ensure the network by improving the web platform and providing technical, commercial and communication support. Everyone is happy to cut out the middlemen for a small, but delicious, slice of the freshest pie.
AtlasAction: Click here to see if there’s a Food Assembly in your area yet.