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Taking the Peas: Vegans Support the Farmers Highlight Wonky Veg Madness




On Friday 23rd February, at Aldi, Lidl, Tesco and Asda in Manchester, Vegans Support the Farmers engaged with the public on the topic of strict fresh fruit and veg standards by supermarkets, a topic highlighted in this year’s Oxford Farming Conference report [1].


  • Some of the Vegans Support the Farmers team dressed up as fruit and veg and asked members of the public what was more important to them; perfect looking produce, or fairness for farmers? 

  • The public showed strong support for our farmers to be treated fairly, with 100% voting that farmer support is more important than food aesthetics.

  • Vegans Support the Farmers is an Animal Rising project that aims to work with farmers on three goals [2]:

  • A fair price for farmers

  • Grow more food in the UK and import less

  • Listen to farmers instead of corporations

  • They also aim to fundraise £100,000 to support the mental health of young farmers as they face a mass of overlapping crises [3].

  • Vegans Support the Farmers is asking people to come to a webinar on Monday 11th March at 7pm to learn more about the video, our work and hear from special guest Alaina - a vegan who grew up on a sheep farm. Link to webinar: https://tinyurl.com/2p9ev2t

At four supermarkets in Manchester, Sarah, Kerri and Tom from Vegans Support the Farmers dressed as fruit and veg and spoke to members of the public about their priority; perfect looking produce or treating farmers fairly. This is the second action by Vegans Support the Farmers, an Animal Rising project, who are raising awareness around the challenges many farmers face, raising money for young farmer mental health initiatives, and breaking down barriers between vegans and farmers to work constructively together [4].


A Tesco shopper said:


“It doesn’t matter what the fruit and veg look like. It could be all higgledy-piggledy, ugly, don’t care, it tastes the same”.


Wonky veg ranges in supermarkets are mere greenwashing. Farmers are only paid for the part of the crop which meets standards and the ‘outsized’ fruit and vegetables are a free bonus for the big retailers at the expense of British farmers. 

 

Supermarket overregulation and price pressure [5], climate-change induced extreme weather events [6], shifting subsidies [7], labour shortages [8], and increased input costs [9] are just some of the pressures facing farmers in Britain, all of which result in a huge mental health burden [10].


Animal Rising, formerly Animal Rebellion, has campaigned alongside farmers in the past, for example at both the 2020 ‘Save British Farming’ protests [11], and the ‘Proud to Farm’ supermarket distribution centre blockades in October of last year [12].

Tom Gardener, 30, Vegans Support the Farmers co-founder, said:


“After attending this year's Oxford Farming Conference and reading their report, it was clear that it is time for action to be taken. Today has shown us that the public put the wellbeing of our farmers far above the looks of the produce they are buying. With up to 40% of a vegetable crop being shunned by supermarkets due to aesthetic requirements, despite the huge improvements needed in food security and food waste, there are strong arguments for removing the label of ‘wonky’ fruit and veg, and changing the ridiculously narrow retailer specifications.”

“We hope that today helps everyone see that we all rely on our farmers for the food on our plates, and that we have a responsibility to step up and help them with their fight for fairer treatment against the powerful retailers. We stand in solidarity with the farmer-led organisations fighting this battle, such as Riverford and Proud to Farm.”


ENDS


Word count: 567


For more information or further comments, please contact: 

Tom (Press Back Office): +44 1225 29 6691


Who Are Animal Rising: 

Animal Rising are working towards a plant-based food system by taking nonviolent direct action and running grassroots campaigns, such as Plant-Based Universities and Councils. This is necessary as an urgent response to the climate and nature emergencies, and to achieve animal freedom.


Who Are Vegans Support the Farmers:

Vegans Support the Farmers is an Animal Rising project that backs farmer-led demands to help address the key issues as part of its work for a safe, just and kind food system. The project hopes to break down barriers between vegans and farmers to come to a place of understanding and collaboration. By stepping in to support farmer issues directly, and providing real support, it hopes to build a basis of trust between the vegan and farming communities. It is raising money for Young Farmers, a network building community among the next generation of farmers, which is really vital to their mental health. Through raising money for this network of groups, we hope to both extend support to, and build relationships with, real people on the ground.

Notes to Editor:


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