Better Food believe in good honest products. They work hard to make local, organic, ethical and fair trade goods more available to all. Nearly all of the vegetables and herbs they sourceare from The Community Farm in Chew Magna, located just a few miles from their Bristol stores – and all of their produce is of course organic!
We caught up with Phil Haughton, Managing Director of Better Food to talk about their future plans, challenges faced and achievements so far (we are certain there are many more to come!). Phil also shares is thoughts on what can be done at an individual level – making the switch to organic is much easier than most people think.
Tell us about Better Food – what’s your mission?
Better Food aims to bring better, fairer food and farming to Bristol. Our messages and produce are all organic and/or local and ethical. We work with local suppliers in the main, but where produce cannot be sourced within 50 miles of Bristol, we ensure it has come from sustainable practicing farms.
What motivates you?
We have a strong environmental conscious here at Better Food, from recycling our waste to selling organic products. Farming and food consumption has an enormous impact on the environment. If food is grown organically, processes are working to preserve the land and biodiversity, and to protect the environment.
Knowing exactly what is in the food we’re eating is important to our customers and staff too. Fresh produce is particularly vulnerable to the use of pesticides, so we promote healthier living through a greater awareness of where food is coming from and how it’s grown. Small changes can make a big impact to an individual’s or family’s health and their environment.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
We have recently achieved a fully-funded financial bond of £350,000 to help fund our third Bristol store, opening in May this year. Bond pledges came in from suppliers, financial investors, customers and businesses from the UK and beyond, showing a real confidence in both Better Food as a company and in organic food retail.
What are the challenges you face?
Bristol is a big city and encouraging better, fairer food consumption across such a wide range of people over a large area can be challenging when we’re a medium sized company. However, we’re expanding our team, awareness of our new brand is growing with our customers and suppliers, and with the third store, we hope to be able to reach more people living in, working in and visiting Bristol.
What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?
The opening of our third store is one of the most exciting things to happen to Better Food in recent years. We have seen opportunity in expanding our business into the Harbourside area of Bristol, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming customers into our new store and cafÃ©. Along with our Whiteladies Road and St Werburgh’s stores, we are growing as a business year on year, and look forward to a prosperous year, where people like The Community Farm, get even more business from us.
Where do you want to take Better Food next?
Better Food has plans, there’s nothing to worry about there! Once our third store has opened in May, we will be developing our plans for a fourth (and more!) store. We have lots happening this year with Better Food-run events, tie-ins with national campaigns, new products coming in all the time, and Christmas (our largest sales period) will be upon us before we know it!
What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?
Often, starting small is a good way to start living more sustainably, from energy use to the food you eat. Eating, even in part, an organic diet can help protect and preserve the environment, from everything to minimizing soil erosion to greenhouse gas emissions.
Breakfast is an especially easy way to start eating more organic produce; try smoothies made with fruit, banana pancakes, wholegrain bread with peanut butter, yogurt and berries – all of these can be made with organic ingredients.
Even if one aspect of your meal is organic, it’s a start. Over 300 million potatoes are sold daily in the UK – imagine the impact we’d have if we all went potato organic.
If you were Prime Minister/President for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Change all environmental legislation to ensure all building, all growing, all packaging, all food was done to a truly sustainable standard.
What’s the coolest project or product you’ve come across, and inspired you?
Our Founder and MD, Phil Haughton, also Founded the Chew Magna Community Farm. The farm and Better Food are strongly linked and they still provide us with 80% of our fresh organic fruit and vegetables. It’s such a bonus to have projects like The Community Farm nearby because its great for local veg as well as offering a fantastic place to learn all about community food production.
Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers?
‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson. Still as true today as ever for our birds and bees.
What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?
BBC Radio 6 music.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero?
Greenpeace, because they get stuck in to the front line of what really matters.
If you’d like to find out more aboutBetter Foodand the work they’re doing, take a look at their websiteor follow them on Twitter.