The GROW Method: How to fix the food system with every bite

There are simple things you can do every day, to help tackle hunger that affects 1 in 7 people around the world. In the GROW Method, we’ve come up with some easy ways to help you be a thriving, supportive and sustainable part of that big thing we’re always going on about – ‘the food system.’

What is the ‘food system’ and how is it ‘broken’?

The ‘food system’ is the global network between farmers and food producers in fields, sellers in markets and supermarkets, and consumers in their local shops and kitchens. Everyone has a part to play in it and if any of the links in the chain are broken, the system won’t work properly. 

The way we produce food is putting a lot of pressure on the environment, with agriculture responsible for nearly a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change - along with unfair distribution and rising food prices - is compromising the ability of small-scale farmers in the developing world to grow food.

Small-scale farmers - what’s the big deal?

Small-scale farmers and food producers are not just a small part of the food system - they are its backbone. In many developing countries, they are responsible for the bulk of food production. In Zambia, for example, up to 80% of food is produced by small-scale farmers. 

Studies show that growing populations and increasing economic development may lead to an increase of 70% in global demand for food by 2050. Small-scale producers are ideally placed to provide the extra food needed, but they currently suffer a lack of support and infrastructure, for example in accessing markets to sell their goods for a fair price.

Women farmers are particularly vulnerable to a lack of support and resources. 43% of the world’s agricultural labour force is women, yet they own just 10-20% of land globally. If women were given the same access to resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by around a quarter, feeding a potential 150 million hungry people.

Get involved

You can find the GROW Method on Pinterest, the Oxfam website and Facebook

If you are in Australia, Mexico, Spain, UK or US, you can share recipes and cooking tips on your local Oxfam Facebook page:

If you are in another part of the world, visit the global GROW Facebook.

Have you tried out the Method yet? Take a photo of your recipe, or find one you love online and share it with us on Pinterest by pinning it and tagging it #GROWmethod.

The ‘GROW Method’

Here are five easy ways to change the way you shop, cook and eat to make the food system work better for everyone:

Support small-scale farmers

We need to protect the 1.5 billion people living on small farms around the world growing food to feed themselves, their families and their communities. Looking out for Fair Trade products and brands when we shop is a great way of doing this and it gives us a connection to producers that we have lost.

Save food

In rich countries, we throw away almost as much food every year as consumers as Sub-Saharan Africa produces in a year (222 million tonnes), creating harmful greenhouse gases when it ends up at a landfill. We can create less waste by storing our fruit and veg better and using up leftovers in inventive ways.

Cook smart

Turning your stove down to simmer after the water in your pan has boiled may seem like a small thing but if all urban households in Brazil, India, the Philippines, Spain, UK and US did it every time they cooked for a year, over 30 million megawatt hours of energy could be saved. The benefit for the environment would be greater than if these same households each planted a tree seedling and let it grow for ten years. And what about if sometimes you used no heat at all?

Buy seasonal

A lot of energy is wasted creating the conditions to grow out of season. By discovering what’s growing near us, we’ll find fruit and veg that not only tastes sweeter because it's in season, but is also using a lot less energy to get to our plates.

Less meat and dairy

Think you know what you’re putting in your chilli con carne? You might be shocked to read that a 500g packet of beef contains 6,810 litres of water. OK not literally, but that is how much water is needed to produce just enough meat for one meal. If just one family swapped beef for beans in their chilli, they could save nearly 6000 litres of water in just one meal, creating less harmful greenhouse gas emissions from food production and cattle, in the process.

Read more 

Read the report: The Food Transformation: Harnessing consumer power to create a fair food future

Read the blog: The Grow Method: Ways to Feed Your Family and Fix the Broken Food System

Find out more about the GROW Method

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