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How big businesses impact food sovereignty

In a world where the next meal is a question mark for many people, the impact of big businesses on food security is a key issue. This is something that has played on the mind of Lush head buyer, Simon Constantine: “You could see the pressures that those companies were putting on suppliers, and they weren’t reasonable.”

A step further than food security, is the issue of food sovereignty. About more than just having enough food, this gives the power back to farmers to be able to decide how and what they grow.

In a cosy corner of the 2017 Lush Summit, Simon Constantine spoke about how buyers could make an altogether different impact: “If you start taking these problems and turning them into solutions, you can have an incredible impact.”

He suggests “something that brings stability, alongside people being able to grow their own crops.”

Positive partnerships that benefit both buyers and suppliers are already in action. Farmers can grow the food needed for their communities, and at the same time produce crops desired by businesses, bringing in extra income and creating more diverse ecosystems.

In Kenya, geranium is grown for use in Lush products. Far from monopolising the land, the plant is complimentary to the food crops that are needed. In Peru, a sustainable extraction plan for rosewood has been developed.

Simon asks: “How are we going to use the thinking we’ve developed and then apply it across the whole business?”

One solution to fund beneficial ways of working is the Spring Prize. A collaboration between Lush and co-operative Ethical Consumer, the £200,000 worth of prize money will reward projects that are working towards environmental and social regeneration.

Ethical Consumer’s Ruth Strange said: “The prize is about holistic thinking.”

With food sovereignty and ingredients buying co-existing peacefully in some projects, what consumers buy can have more impact than they might think.

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