Foodteams in Leuven, Belgium

Posted by Carolyn on May 7, 2011 at 3:26 pm


Since power and profit in food lie entirely in the exchange between producer and consumer, I am always on the lookout for interesting new food network models. I was delighted, therefore, to be invited to visit Flanders recently, where a scheme called ‘Voedselteams’, or Foodteams, has been operating with great success for the past ten years.

The scheme works like this: a group of households in one neighbourhood (usually between 10-20 in number) decide to set up a Foodteam. They then register on the Foodteams website, where they can choose from a list of local organic producers of fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy, bread, and even wine. The food is ordered online, and the producers deliver once a week to a variety of locations, including members’ garages (as in the photo above), community kitchens, medical centres and so on. Members then take it turns to sort out the deliveries and organise the pick-ups, which typically take place in a two-hour weekly evening slot. Members and producers meet once a year, to review the scheme and discuss their approach for the following year.

Membership costs just €10 per year, for which members not only get to eat tasty, local, seasonal and ethical food, but learn more about their food too. They forge links with their farmers, who often send notes with their produce, with background information, hints and recipes. Members also get to know one another through the scheme, and many now socialise outside the Foodteam context. With 70 producers supplying 90 Foodteams in Flanders, the success of the scheme is evident, and there are plans to extend it to the rest of Belgium, and indeed further afield.

For more information, visit the Foodteams Website:


TEDx Danubia

Posted by Carolyn on May 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm


As regular readers of this irregular blog will know, one of the highlights of my post-HC career was to speak at TEDGlobal in 2009. This was a truly inspiring, although terrifying event, and I have often had occasion to be grateful for the experience, not just for the amazing boost of positive energy that it gave me, but because, after TED, I felt that no speaking event could ever be scary again.

It was interesting, therefore, to be invited to speak at TEDxDanubia recently, which took place in a stunning theatre in Budapest, the ceiling of which you can see at the head of this post. I was curious to see whether TED2 would awaken the same sense of terror that TED1 had done, and, right up to the wire, I felt absolutely fine. It was only on stepping in front of 400 eager Hungarians that I realised that, yes, I had the TED nerves all over again. Talking about a subject you are passionate about is one thing; doing it to a strict time schedule is quite another. In any case, it seemed to go OK, and it was great to have the chance to share some of my latest thinking about sitopia, and how we can use food as a tool. You can see my talk, if you like, here:

Carolyn’s TEDxDanubia talk