Producers & Suppliers
In this section, I provide you with information about the producers and/or suppliers I get my produce from (I am filling this section little by little - thanks for your understanding).
- Agricovert (cooperative grouping 25 small organic producers): Producer of fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, raw milk, raw cheese, honey, juice, flour...
- Pintafish: Small-scale, independent project sourcing and promoting healthy, tasty and sustainable fish. Part of Veeakker.
- Veeakker: Belgian distribution company of responsible and sustainable meat (incl. 100% grass-fed beef), fish, poultry and other food products.
- Dr. Goerg: Producer of delicious, healthy & sustainable coconut products (oil, butter, milk, flakes, flour, sugar, syrup...)
Pour une description en FR, veuillez trouver un article sympha sur Agricovert ici: http://surladeroute.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/agricovert-de-la-production-de-legumes-a-la-production-de-lien-social/#more-520
Agricovert is a cooperative founded in 2010 by HoChul Chantraine. It groups 25 small farmers (organic or in transition), coordinating their production in function of capacities & season and distributing their produce (vegetables, fruits, raw milk, raw cheese, eggs, meat) in a so-called "short-circuit-distribution" directly to the consumer in the form of their weekly "bio baskets" in Wallony and Brussels. They also have a farmers market at their offices in Gembloux (behind the main station), run a market for the students of the ULB in Brussels, and provide Metabolance with their produce (I am very happy about that!)
But Agricovert is not only a mere distributor - the cooperative also supports the farmers (machines, expertise, knowledge, fair prices...) and facilitates the exchange of knowledge between them. They accompany and train young producers wanting to get started with organic farming and also those producers wanting to change from "conventional" to "organic" farming.
Contrary to "organic" mass producers offering their produce in supermarkets, Agricovert lives a philosophy and represents the "real" organic idea: a "human" small-scale (= non-intensive) agriculture ? taking into consideration natural cycles (seasons, ideal times to grow for animals etc.). The produce is sold at a price that is fair for both - farmer & consumer - and represents the real value of the food.
The goal is not to "grow" for the sake of growing or to "control" the market. Agricovert deliberately keeps things "small" - conscious about their capacities and limitations. They know that once things get "too big" certain compromises would have to be made in terms of quality, pricing, fairness... and since for them the respect for the farmers, the product, the consumer and of course the environment is what counts most, this is not an option. Still they would like to see similar projects emerge in the future and be willing to share their experiences.
Agricovert practices an administrative model called "sociocraty". This means that all participants (of a meeting) are asked to express their opinion about every question or problem and that the solution has to be acceptable by everybody (they don't necessarily have to be in favour, but not opposed neither). Far from "blocking" decision taking, this model involves all members, avoiding the "monopolisation" of the strongest characters.
Another social aspect of Agricovert is that they generate employment - especially to people that are little qualified and that would have difficulties finding an occupation otherwise. Like that they provide a platform for integration of people of different social backgrounds.
Heavy-metal contamination, overfishing and unsustainable-fishing methods... all that makes us lose our appetite for fish. However, there are alternatives, such as "Pintafish".
- Small-scale project started by Veeakker already some years ago with the goal to source and offer healthy, tasty and responsible choices of fish.
- Independent project: Not tied to any specific label or certification => High flexibility regarding the choice of fish-sorts, boats and fishing-techniques, in the face of new developments and/or discoveries.
- Expertise: Selection of fish, fishing areas and time of fishing done by a team of former fishers.
- Small boats: All fishers supplying fish for Pintafish work with small boats. Those small boats can?t fish that many fish in one time, so overfishing is prevented. They also can?t stay that long out, what means that the fish will be fresher.
- Seasonality: Yes, also fish have "seasons". At Pintafish, fish is only fished when "in season" and populations are sufficiently high. It is frozen, so it can also be sold out of season.
- Promotion of "unpopular" sorts: By selecting and promoting also unknown sorts of fish, populations of highly overfished fish are spared and food waste (in the form of "unwanted" by-catch sorts) is minimized. The consumer benefits in the form of a lower price as compared to popular sorts, especially if buying the "seasonal package".
- Sustainable fishing methods: Pintafish's goal is that all the fish fished will be sold. That?s very ambitious and revolutionary, considering that intensive, industrial fishing methods have a lot of by-catch, which is then just thrown back into the sea (according to WWF, bycatch kills each year: 300.000 small wales, dolphins, porpoises, 100 million sharks, 250.000 turtles, thousands of seabirds, billions of unwanted fish and invertebrates). The usage of ?bottom trawling? (fishing with enormous nets dragged along the sea floor) also damages the seabed and its ecosystem.
- Honest price for the fisher, guaranteeing the quality of the fish.
- Absolute freshness: The fish is cleaned, portioned, vacuum-packed and frozen immediately after the return of the boat. Considering that most "fresh" fish spends considerable time in transport and in the shop before arriving on your plate (and might actually have been frozen and unfrozen several times), this process guarantees absolute freshness.
It all started in 1985 when Wim Versteden started his own small farm in Tielt to raise pigs and sheep. From the beginning he chose for small-scale, artisanal farming methods, emphasizing animal welfare (his pigs always could wallow in the mud), feeding his animals with only locally produced feed (as opposed to importing soy and other proteins from far away, as was and still is the most common practice) and distributing his produce directly to the customers (short-circuit distribution). All that is still not common TODAY, but certainly was revolutionary in 1985!
Over the years the farm grew to a distribution company taking a stand for responsible and sustainable products. Among others, they offer sustainable beef (different breeds, incl. 100% grass-fed meat from Galloway cows whose main purpose is the maintenance of natural reserves in Flanders), lamb, poultry, pork and fish. Since the beginning Veeakker has been fighting to get soy out of the animals? diets (the animals raised on their own farm definitely are soy-free), but unfortunately they are still too small to impose that as a mainstream criterion for all breeds, despite all the good argumentation against soy there is. So ? just like everywhere else, and even in ?organic? ? their pork and chicken still is partially soy-fed (GMO-free of course), but they continue informing farmers and working to increase their negotiation power.
Metabolance is very happy to have found Veeakker as a supplier of 100% grass-fed beef and sustainable fish (and potentially more products in the future). Let?s support them and their important mission by buying their products!
Dr. Goerg is the company working with farmers in the Philippines to produce all those delicious and healthy organic coconut products (oil, butter, milk, flakes, flour, sugar, syrup...) that you can find in my online shop. There are several reasons why I chose to work with Dr. Goerg directly instead of buying the brands carried by Belgian wholesalers:
- Harvest-Fresh-Guarantee: Dr. Goerg not only gurantees that the coconuts are freshly harvested every day, but also that they are processed gently and manually within a maximum of 3 days after the harvest. Many coconut oils on the market are produced from "copra", coconut flesh that has been dried in the sun for a long time before processing it, which might lead to the creation of toxins or molds.
- Raw food quality: Most Dr. Goerg Coconut products (except for those where manufacturing needs to involve heat, namely in the case of the sugar, the syrup and the milk) have Raw Food quality. If we look at the oil for example, "extra virgin" is not a protected quality standard for coconut oil as it is for olive oil. Still cold pressing is important as it preserves the valuable nutrients. Raw means that the oil has not been heated above 42° C at any moment during processing. In addition to that, it is NOT refined, deodorised or bleached and free of trans fatty acids, preservatives, artificial aromas, colours, stabilisers and any other additives or genetically modified components. Producers of cheaper coconut oils are focussed on obtaining higher yields. They might industrially grind and/or heat the oil and/or press it under high pressure to get out as much oil as possible. Further processing might include bleeching and/or deodorizing (taking out the typical coconut smell and taste). In the case of non-organic brands, also chemical solvents might be used and the few unsaturated fats naturally present in coconut oil might be hydrogenated (hardened) to further increase its already long shelf-life.
- Quality Control: The modern processing follows highest international standards (HACCP & ISO 9001 manufacturer certified). Every batch of coconut oil is tested by an independent German food lab to confirm the high quality of the product (e.g. lauric acid content).
- Waste Reduction: Dr. Goerg's labor intensive way of processing allows for optimised utilisation of the coconuts: 60% of the pulp make oil, the rest (the press cake) makes valuable coconut flour.
- Packaging: The coconut products come in glass (oil, butter), paper bags (flakes) or BPA-free tins/recipients (milk, oil).
- Sustainability: ?Fair Trade for Fair Life? is the core component of Dr. Goerg?s social commitment. The company?s entire collaboration with producers, suppliers, and customers is characterized by fairness, transparency and respect. They voluntarily commit to various aid projects which make an instant difference right on the spot, from person to person, helping to create self-help. They deliberately avoid expensive certifications. Instead, the aid goes directly to the people - straightforward, unbureaucratic, and extremely efficient.