A watermelon can go around the world two times before reaching your table. So does an avocado or an apple. And to start with, why do we eat watermelons in November?
Madrid is home for several initiates promoting responsible and sustainable consumption. La Colmena dice sí is one of its most successful examples. How does this distribution network operate?
A hive (in Spanish colmena) - is a place where bees produce and keep their honey. It's also where they live, work and stock up their supplies; their home.
La Colmena dice sí is a local initiative which connects local producers with consumers through communities called Colmenas, it works more or less like a hive. The idea - born as an answer to increasingly impersonal and dubiously fair consumption patterns - is to change the consumption dynamics towards a more responsible and collaborative model, where the consumer knows exactly what he/she buys and from where it comes.
The project, born a decade ago in France and present in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Italy, UK and the Netherlands, landed in Spain in 2014. Today in Madrid, there are almost 30,000 consumers and +360 producers covering fruit, vegetables, cheese, bread, and even meat.
"Let's get together to buy the best food available, directly from local farmers and foodmakers." - The Food Assembly
For the consumers the deal is pretty straight forward: responsible consumption, less environmental impact (shorter supply chains), freshness, and quality (seasonal goods and no greenhouses).
But what makes it for the producers? Anna García, La Colmena’s Communications officer explains, "Producers see in this model a short circuit distribution channel where they are the ones who impose the rules of the game. They set the price they consider fair for their products and the minimum order to ensure benefits."
Apart from Madrid, in Spain La Colmena has also taken Barcelona, Bilbao, Valladolid, León, Valencia, San Sebastian and some towns in Andalucía and Galicia.
Consumers only need to access their web and look for the nearest Colmena. Once they´ve chosen what they want they have a few days and pick it up from one of the pick up points. "We say that we create communities of consumption 2.0 because we want to promote contact between rural areas and cities, taking advantage of the new technologies." - Anna explains, "The objective is to empower both consumers and producers."
Consuming seasonal products directly from producers, is not only more responsible and sustainable but also tastier. Why would you want to eat a watermelon with this cold anyway?
Words & Pictures by Sara Paz
Enjoyed Sara's take on the Food Assembly? Maybe you wanna read more stories of local impact in our urban environments? Then let's check out Issue 2 of A City Made by People, follow the link to take a look!