Globalization has profoundly changed our eating habits, as well as the ways of producing and distributing food. The development of food multinationals, the progressive concentration of distribution groups and the creation of larger sales points, have significantly increased the import-export of raw materials and finished products.
The always larger distance between the producer and the consumer leads to an increase in pollution and a reduction of the genuineness and convenience of the products. In recent years, various forms of direct sales have become gradually popular. The aim is to promote local productions, destroying the distances between fields and tables, to present an alternative to the model of large-scale production and distribution.
In Belgium, the direct sales are supported by the GASAPs – groupe d’achats solidaires de l’agriculture paysanne (Solidarity buying group of peasant agriculture). Brothers of the French AMAPs, the GASAPs are the fruit of a citizens’ initiative which aims at supporting peasant agriculture. In fact, a GASAP is not simply a way to buy bio and genuine vegetables, but it is the direct sale, without an intermediary, of the products of the countryside.
How does a GASAP work
The core idea of the direct sale of local food is that producers make more profit by skipping the distribution ring, while the consumer can taste healthy, fresh and quality products at an affordable price. With this model also the environment wins thanks to the lower CO2 emissions due to the decrease of transports linked to food distribution.
GASAPs work by establishing a partnership between “eaters” and producers who are committed to each other in the long term. Eaters finance a local producer that, for at least one year, will provide them with fresh and local products. In this way, this system allows a direct and supportive relationship with local farms working for agro-ecological agriculture, providing jobs in all the Belgian regions. To be part of a GASAP it is both possible to join an existing group or to create a new one, with friends or neighbours.
A GASAP is a self-managed system. Every two weeks, the producers deliver their products to the place of the permanence of each GASAP. Afterward, the eaters take care of their distribution. Eaters take turns ensuring management schedules, payments, and tasks that allow the GASAP to work.
In every basket, it is possible to find fresh, local and seasonal vegetables. Some farms offer also a “Super-GASAP”. In that case, the basket contains also meat, bread, dairy products, processed products, fruits, and much more… in some cases even chocolate mousse!
Food that has the taste of solidarity with the peasants
“These vegetables, these cheeses have the taste of solidarity with the peasants. They recreate links between the eaters and the producers. We reconnect with the reality of the earth, exit the supermarkets. There are products with lots of values, not just a monetary value”, the GASAP team says.
The payments for the GASAP have to be made at least 3 months in advance, to guarantee a regular income for producers and allow them to forecast their crops. The eaters commit for one year and pledge to find substitutes in case of departure of the GASAP before the end of the season.
Thanks to the support of the Ministry of the Walloon ecological transition, the GASAP Network will continue to raise awareness of the issues of direct selling, peasant agriculture and the link between eaters and producers.
By supporting local producers over the long term, GASAPs also support the Walloon economy and jobs. Thanks to their functioning based on regular meetings with the producers, they make it possible to discover vegetables, recipes, to understand agricultural practices, to meet other humanist citizens.
“Too often we do not know the women and men who feed us. We see their fields, we see their working tools, we appreciate the hedges that punctuate – or not – our landscapes. But too rarely we exchange with them on their exciting, but not valorized enough, jobs”, the GASAP team continues.
You can find more information on the project and discover the existing GASAPs around you, here.