Food & systems thinking


In order for you to understand this blog post more clearly, you must understand the term ‘locavore‘. Locavore is an individual who prefers to eat food from locally sourced places.

The hype of buying locally sourced food has risen over the recent years; it is beneficial not only to your health (as they are naturally grown) but also to the community and economy. When thinking of buying local products it makes me think about my hometown, Prestatyn in North Wales, where a similar aspect is ongoing. In 2012, a shopping park in Prestatyn opened, resulting in the residents in and around the town relying on the chained stores for the things they need and disregarding the independent local stores. Now there is a lot of commercial advertisement to try to drive you towards supporting the local community, as unfortunately their businesses are failing. Although we would all love to support our local community, it is much easier going to shops where you know the items you need will definitely be there (unless out of stock) and  at a cheaper price, rather than going in and out of different shops looking for the just one thing you need. In regards to buying locally sourced produce, I have the same opinion. It is much easier to go into the one supermarket where you can get all of your food supplies at once, rather than going into different shops, such as fruit and veg and also butchers, this method is much more time consuming.

I have quite a broad apatite, disliking just a small amount of foods such as steak, this is one type of food that I cannot stand! However recently, I have changed my diet, to a much healthier one, which enhances my mood and energy to a much positive one. Since changing my diet, my story of how I eat has changed, simply swapping white carbohydrates to brown ones and changing my milk type from semi-skimmed to skimmed.  Although my diet has changed, my shopping habits have stayed the same, still sticking to the supermarket products. Having said this, I have recently noticed that in supermarkets, such as Tesco, some, if not most, fresh produce is sourced from Britain. For example, a batch of strawberries I recently brought from Tesco’s, stated the name of the farmer and where they were grown, showing that they are locally sourced and not shipped from the other side of the world. I think it is nice that large chained supermarkets, like the one mentioned, is supporting local communities, bringing local and chained stores closer together, where this is stated, I do choose the locally sourced products, however being a student the price also is a main divert of the choices I make.

Within a system of an organisation there are five characteristics that help it work overall better, these are; environment and open systems, interdependence, goals, process and feedback, openness, order and contingency. Below it will be discussed how these can promote and enhance the locavore movements within this theme of organisation.

  1. Environment and open systems – In order for organisations to achieve the best they can they must adapt to the surrounding environment, however this may not be as easy as it sounds as environments are repeatedly changing. In order for the environment to keep up with the changes they should follow the idea of an ‘open-system theory’. This theory recognises that each organisation is different and in order for it to survive within the ever-changing economy the organisation must produce a structure that is suited for them. Keeping their system open rather then closed, will allow the organisation to adapt and change according to the environment. In reference to locavores, organisations must highlight their limitations, for example being unable to grow certain crops at certain times of the year. In order to eliminate this issue, research must be conducted to try and figure out how to grow certain crops out of their season. Once this is noticed the organisation will then be able to meet the needs of their customers at all times.
  2. Interdependence – Interdependence is a characteristic that is important within the idea of locavores, this is because it is mainly independent organisations involved. Due to being independent the promotion and popularity will lack due to many reasons, such as; insufficient funds. However the locavores can help this, as them and the organisations reflect off each other as without one the other would not exist. In result of this the locavores will feel passionate about the organisation and want to support them, so they can be a source of promotion (much like Prestatyn and their situation). However is this seen as enough? Although people tell you all the positives of eating locally, people still choose to stick to what they know going to the known organisations. Expressing that without one, the other will be at risk, highlights the factor of how dependent the organisations and the locavores are of each other.
  3. Goals – Goals are a part of most people’s lives, whether it being a work goal or an independent goal. All organisations have goals in order to keep the organisations and the employees focused and allow them to thrive towards a commonality. Goals for self, are for the same purpose and allow individuals to thrive towards something that will allow them to receive a sense of self achievement. Some organisation may have a set goal, also known as a mission statement and within this they will have sub-system goals which they will achieve to help them receive their main intention. In relation to locavore thinking, goals will help them widen their organisation and enhance their audience. By having set goals it will help motivate the organisation to work harder, especially if these goals have a limit on the amount of time they have in order to achieve. One goal locavore organisations could achieve is to expand their target audience to students, in order to do this correct promotion should be developed.
  4. Processes and feedback – This type of system connects the idea of communication and action, as it allows the customer to communicate in order for the organisation to reflect on this and create an action to resolve. It is beneficial to organisations to receive and accept all feedback, whether this being negative or positive. What they then do with this feedback is what they will find most beneficial to them. The importance of an organisation is what the customer has to say, because of course, they are the reason why they are open. Although it might not be easily accepted, negative feedback will help see where they are going wrong and what they can do in order to produce improvement. Positive feedback give the organisation a sense of achievement but will also give them a direction of where they can improve, allowing the business to grow each time. Taking on board feedback is beneficial to all organisations, including lovacore based ones. As earlier stated, it is difficult for organisations to grow crops all year around, listening to customers on which crops would be most popular during out of season will allow the organisation to concentrate on the most popular, and dismissing those who do not seen to be needed as much.
  5. Openness, order and contingency – The basis of all organisations are dependent on unpredictability as they are unsure (especially when first setting up) if it is going to take off and expand. However if you accept the unpredictability and make plans that route in other directions to fall back, on all should work out. Contingency highlights that there is not a perfect way to organise as things are reliant upon each other, but allowing an open theory to promote an order of a system will allow the organisation to run effectively. Within locavore thinking, the main dependency is on the weather, however this is the most unpredictable thing in Britain! In order to overcome this is to plan follow the seasonal weather, growing the summer crops in the summer and the winter in the winter. After building a strong customer base they can then develop with intertwining the two.

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