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Organic Food- Fair Trade Consumption in France- II

We have all heard of or used organic products at some point or the other. What exactly is an organic product ?

 

Organic Certifies logos for France

French Organic Certification Logo © Agence Bio

As per the European Rule of Harmonisation* for defining what constitutes an 'organic' product, there are several guidelines- a sustainable production; respect for natural equilibrium and biodiversity; a product of high quality that is not detrimental to the health or the environment and the traceability of ingredients**.

 

In France, the growing popularity and acceptance of organic products is evident with an increasing consumption and use of such products. For 2009, more than 2233 enterprises were engaged in certified organic activity generating 3 billions in sale. Organic farming represented more than 3% of the total farming and 1 out of 2 French consumers uses at least 1 organic product per month for the same period. Organic choice of the French favours vegetables and fruits, milk products, eggs, spices, fruit juices, breads, coffee, tea, biscuits and fish. A slightly higher price may be a deterrent for most despite the obvious advantages for health and the environment. The elevated price may be attributed to using organic techniques that require more space and manual labour; respect for environmental cycles as a result of which the production is not massive; and partial premium to fund organic controls from authorities. Procuring a choice organic product has become easy these days through various channels of mass retailers, super markets, speciality stores, internet, direct sale, etc.

 

Out here, we present some non conventional channels for obtaining organic/ natural products directly from the producers. These programs are based on community participation instead of just being a mere observer as a buyer. The consumer involves himself/ herself in farm activities, information on method of cultivation, finances the production in addition to buying the produce.

 

AMAP

get your vegetables and 'produits du terroir' directly from producers

Instead of going to the supermarkets and buying vegetables and other gastronomic products such as cheese, meat etc. available there, what if organic vegetables and other products were available to you every week for a fixed price directly from the farmer and you could visit the farm they were cultivated in ? The concept of AMAP*** is based around the community principal of getting the consumer and small producers directly in touch, thereby reducing the middlemen cost; ensuring the freshness and seasonal variety, quantity and price of produce; pre-financing the cost of cultivation; not to mention the reduction of wastage. The consumers engage themselves for a period, say 6 months, to buy products be it fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat or cheese from a particular participating AMAP farmer in their locality by paying in advance. In turn, the small producer/ farmer engages himself/ herself to supply vegetables and other products at a fixed price on a weekly basis from a distribution point in a particular locality. As per AMAP claims, this system ensure that quasi-totality of whatever is produced is consumed compared to the big distribution chains whereby 60% of the yield remains with the producer. The collaboration and choice on the methods of agriculture such as organic farming are also agreed upon. Such an arrangement allows the producer to get a reasonable price that covers this production cost and a decent revenue whereas for the consumers, they have a say in the variety and methods of agriculture keeping the price remains affordable. In all, the products are guaranteed healthy while respecting man and rhythm and biodiversity of nature.

Printemps Bio 2010

Poster 'Printemps Bio' © Agence Bio

Membership to AMAP involves a nominal fee of 8€ and an annual subscription of 5€. The average cost of a weekly 'basket' composed of various products varies from 10-15€. Some indicative examples of baskets/ 'paniers' are 'panier biologique' at 15€ (containing 1 kg potatoes, 1 bunch of carrots, 2 salads, 1 melon, 1 aubergine, 1 kg beetroot, 1 kg tomato and 1 small box of cherry tomatoes), another at 10€ (containing 1 kg spinach, 3 salads, 1 bunch of small radishes, 1 bunch of turnips), yet another at 10€ (containing 1 kg carrots, 1 kg potatoes, 500 gm celery, 1 kg leek and 1 kg cauliflower). The composition of these baskets vary as per the offer of the farmer and the season. The diversity of offered products is agreed upon in advance. At present, in Paris, there are various AMAP associations and distribution points in 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th districts. One can create an AMAP association closer to one's locality with a group of interested people.

The constraints for such a type of system are the engagements on part of the consumer for pre-payment, in total or in instalments, for the entire duration of contact. This leaves them no choice or flexibility concerning vacations, sickness and other instances that might make them absent at their fixed weekly distribution point. It is left to the consumers to manage their own absence, 're-selling' their baskets to other AMAPians/ wait-listed people etc. They also get implicated in social life around distribution, farm visits and association's functioning. On part of the small producers, the engagement is to offer variety of products throughout the year, hosting consumers at the farm twice a year, answering questions regarding farming methods etc.

Examples of local AMAP associations - AMAP (75018), AMAP (75019)

 

La Tournée

similar to AMAP

Organic vegetables

© Agence Bio

La Tournée is similar in principal to AMAP. Located in the 10th district of Paris, it proposes to unite the producers- of fresh organic vegetables, bread, eggs, meat, milk, ...- in a short distribution area with consumers. The subscription is on a seasonal basis (Spring-Summer or Autumn-Winter) for 6 months duration. All the products proposed by La Tournée are exclusively organic. A 6 month subscription for a winter weekly vegetable basket (at 18€) will cost 360€ with the entire payment made in one or several instalments. An example of a winter basket is 1.25 kg potatoes, 750 gm parsnip, 750 gm endives, 1 cabbage, 750 gm raw red beetroot and 1 round celery. Example of a spring vegetable basket contains 1.3 kg leek, 2 bunch of radish, 2 salads, 300 gm asparagus, 2 parsnips, 1/2 bunch parsley and 1 kg potatoes. There is a choice of opting for a basket or half a basket of vegetables; accompanying fruits, breads, eggs, meat at a supplementary cost. It costs 5€ to become a member of La Tournée. Either the producer or a designated association member brings the goods to the point of distribution.


La Tournée,
5 cour des Petites-Écuries 75010 Paris
Tel : +33 (0) 1 45 23 51 06
website of La Tournée (in French)

 

Les Panier du Val de Loire

basket for 2

A concept similar to that of AMAP and La Tournée with slight differences in functioning. The organic baskets/ 'paniers' are prepared based on the consumption calculated for 2 persons. Each basket is claimed to be sufficient for 5-6 meals for 2 persons. One can choose between a fruits and vegetables basket or a 'farm' basket containing organic eggs in addition. A 'trial subscription' allows you 6 baskets at 85.50 € for Paris and departments of 91, 92, 93 and 94 (13.50 €/ basket of 3-5 kg+ 4.50 € administrative charges) and 72.30 € in Orléans (11.50 €/ basket + 4.50 € administrative charges) before engaging yourself for a half-yearly or yearly contract. There is a greater amount of flexibility compared to other such systems in that if there is a planned absence, eg. vacations, informed at least 3 days in advance, the proposed basket is not delivered and the consumer has a choice to have the replacement basket delivered some other time. Various locations in and around Paris and Orléans are proposed for distribution.

Les Paniers du Val de Loire
7 rue de la Vacquerie, 41000 Blois
Tel: +33 (0) 2 47 30 10 50
website of Les Paniers (in French)




Planète Lilas

cultivate your vegetables and share your know-how

Planète Lilas is an association that proposes 2 hectares of land for cultivation, situated 5 km of Paris in the 'parc departmental' of Lilas in Vitry-sur-Seine. Their foundations are based on fair trade by selling non-chemically treated, locally cultivated vegetables at an affordable price while respecting the environment and health. There are pedagogic activities in gardening for the school going children, festive events etc. There is a salaried gardener who cultivates the land with regular participation of volunteers. A sale of 'baskets' is held twice per week at the garden as well as of a weekly basket composed of various vegetables.

Association Planète Lilas
78, rue Lemerle Vetter, 94400 Vitry-sur-Seine
Tel: +33 (0) 1 46 81 56 50
Metro: Villejuid- Louis Aragon (Line 7). Take bus no. 393 and get down at Paul Armangot stop.
website of Planète Lilas (in French)

 

Related Reading

Fair Trade Consumption in France- I on fair trade practices, French context and actual use and links of various organisations.

 

Some Useful Links

Agence Bio- Official organic certifying agency in France and its concerns- Printemps Bio, Organic Milk and Meat, Organic Cereals and Organic fruits and vegetables. Agence Bio is a collaboration of several bodies such as the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fishing; Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea; and APCA, FNAB, SYNABIO and COOP of France in public interest.

Réseau Cocagne Collective organic gardens.

FERME Federation for promoting the raising of threatened domestic races/ Fédération pour promouvoir l'Elevage des Races domestiques Menacées.

Terre de Liens for collective initiatives of buying and managing real estate and building in rural areas.

Le jardin dans tous ses états Exchange dynamics of projects of 'shared gardens' and their partners.

Action Consommation Consumer action NGO.

Les Alterconsos System similar to AMAP's. Based in Lyon.

Les Amis de la Confédération Paysanne Friends of the Country Confederation.

Mouvement Inter-Régional des AMAP (MIRAMAP) Interregional AMAP movement.

Nature et Progrès An international association reuniting organic and ecological producers in metropolitan and overseas France, Spain and Belgium.

 

* European Community Rule/ règlement CE n°834/2007

**This means that in the cultivation of certified organic goods, no synthetic chemicals or genetically modified products were used while preferring the recycling and biodegradability of manure etc. For organic animal products, the animal must have had recourse to an open area, been nourished on organic food with use of alternative medicine in case of health problems. Any organic product with the logo AB or European Organic logo means that it has 95% of the ingredients that are organic in nature, the rest 5% being those that are not available in organic form. Organic products must necessarily contain the official certifying agency's logo and the European Organic logo (if the product was made in Europe). French organic products have the label AB- 'Agriculture Biologique'/ Organic Farming.

*AMAP- Association for the maintenance of local agriculture (Associations pour le Maintien de l’Agriculture Paysanne). (website in French)


EU Organic Certification Logo

EU Organic Certification Logo © European Commission