Snubbing the Supermarkets
So I was in a fair food panel last week and in front of 100 people I cried. Not tears running down the face silent crying but hard to get through to the end of the sentence sobbing.
I cried because I was overwhelmed and running a business that’s trying to be fair is harder than I often allow myself to feel. Most of the time I feel full of hope and enthusiasm, particularly when the hard bits have had a good sleep and haven’t just worked a 12 hour day. Not so this night.
It started off ok. I just felt impassioned. I was asked to speak to the question, ‘what does fair food mean to you?’ so I started by talking about what’s unfair.
For me, ‘unfair’ is corporations stealing artisan language for their marketing purposes. Unfair means not being able to stay small and earn a living. Unfair is trying to be an independent business when you have to compete with Australia’s love of the supermarket.
One of our food makers asked a question about how she can keep going and be an ethical business when she’s working a second job just to keep her food business alive. It was while contemplating her question and waiting my turn to respond that the crying started.
I knew it would happen but there was no way out. Dismissing her question and talking about something else definitely wouldn’t have been ‘fair’. As tears welled in my heart, I play out what I wanted to say in my head: how hard it’s been for us and how important it is for businesses to admit this aloud in front of rooms of people so that others working just as hard don’t feel alone. Because it is working and it is worthwhile even though it’s also fucking hard. Staying focussed on the ethical part of Wandering Cooks is what kept us alive when everything else was breaking. It was our generator when the engines were failing.
Fair for us is a new culture that isn’t built on labels that can be co-opted by mega business or allow consumers to stay mindless. Fair has to be created through a web of connections too complicated for corporations to follow. It relies on self-responsibility and questioning by everyone involved. More work, more options, less hiding, more rich involvement in the food system. All fuelled by conversations and transparency.
This is why we created The Charter, which is designed to help food businesses work towards a fair food system. And it’s why we’ve now created a support group for consumers ready to turn their backs on the supermarkets and start truly supporting the kinds of businesses we all love to love on Instagram. See here for more details about how to get involved with us ‘Snubbers’ at our first event, planned for December 6th.