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La Ruche Qui Dit Oui!

Paris producers using guerrilla tech to beat supermarkets

In the Paris beyond the COP21 summit, people, collectives and businesses aren’t just talking about the climate, they’re taking action for a cleaner, carbonless future.
Part farmers’ market, part food pop-up, the concept changing the way Europe gets its five-a-day.

The concept is simple and it’s the same everywhere: a ‘host’ – anyone in the community – decides to set up a hive, then finds a location (a café, or theatre, or school, wherever), then contacts producers within a 250 mile radius. Farmers, growers – actually, even some brewers now – can then set their prices and the minimum orders they need to make the trip worthwhile. The host then sends out an email with what’s available that week; ‘members’ then pre-order online and pick up the goods at a weekly meet-up.

Dreamed up by French entrepreneur Guilhem Chéron in 2009, the La Ruche Qui Dit Oui! concept, known as The Food Assembly in English, has spread rapidly around Europe. In fact, it’s massive – and growing. The organisers reckon there are now around 700 hives, or ‘assemblies’, in France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK.

Part of the reason it’s working is that producers do pretty well. Only around 16% of their gross profits are deducted: 8.35% goes to the hive organiser and the same to La Ruche. The upshot is, with the pre-order system, there’s very little waste: producers typically sell around 80 per cent of what they bring to town.

Unlike mainstream supermarkets, there are no cherries in autumn here – the local-only offering means the fruit and vegetables are always seasonal. And, unlike the supermarkets, buyers don’t reject produce because they are misshaped or ‘ugly’.

Visit laruchequiditoui.fr for more information.

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