Introducing hiSbe: “Bring on the Shopper Power!”

by Ruth Anslow

hiSbe stands for how it Should be and our purpose is to help build a fairer and more sustainable food system through Shopper Power! We’re a Community Interest Company — a CIC. This year we plan to open our pilot store; a 21st Century ethical SUPERmarket that puts all the good stuff in one place, explains the story of ethical food and shows people where their money goes.

Today, most people do not habitually look at their dinner and think about the story behind the food, or the wider consequences of the buying choices they made. However, as big food retailers, businesses and governments continue to promote an unhealthy, inefficient and wasteful global food system, the impacts on our lives are becoming increasingly obvious to more people. A food system that produces up to 50% obesity in some countries and leaves 1 billion people elsewhere without enough to eat is clearly broken. A food system dominated by companies that put profit before people inevitably seeks to commoditise and standardise food, plan quality out and force prices down.

All around us there are examples of how the activities of big food business are damaging our communities, our wellbeing, workers here and abroad, animals and the planet. It seems that every week brings a new story about unethical supermarket practices, or the exploitation of workers, the abuse of animals, the marketing of food to make it seem healthy or nutritious when it’s not, and the ludicrous waste in the food supply chain.

At hiSbe we use our blog to shine a light on the food industry and share these stories of profit before people. We talk honestly about food and how the way that it’s produced and traded impacts on people, animals and the planet.

hiSbe has a vision of a 21st Century food system that puts people before profit, so that everyone can afford healthy, sustainable, good food… and we think that starts with shoppers making informed and conscious choices. Every time we buy food we are voting with our wallets for what we want to see more of on the shelves. That’s Shopper Power! We just need to use that power carefully.

It’s about making small, easy changes and it all starts with knowing what’s in the food we eat, how it’s been made and what the true costs of producing it are. To help, we created hiSbe’s 8 Everyday Choices as a simple guide to a fairer and more sustainable food system. We present clear information in bite-sized actionable chunks and the core message is that of choice: hiSbe’s slogan is “You can change what’s wrong with the food system by supporting what’s right”.

Here’s a look at our 8 Everyday Choices:-

GO LOCAL: Food that’s farmed or produced in your area is freshest and has probably taken less energy to get to you, so look for it in independent shops & markets near you.

CHOOSE SEASONAL: Making the most of the fruit and vegetables that are in season here means we rely less on flying stuff in from abroad.

PROTECT NATURE: Food is more naturally nutritious and healthy when it’s made using soil-friendly farming methods that protect and help the Earth, instead of harming it.

SUPPORT ETHICAL: When we buy food from farmers and producers here and abroad they need to get a fair deal and a dignified living out of it. Think of the people behind the products.

THINK WELFARE: Intensive factory farming produces cheap meat & dairy products with big knock-on costs to the environment, animal welfare and our own health. It’s about quality not quantity.

SAVE FISH: To stop some types of fish becoming extinct and other types just being thrown back in the sea dead choose fish from well-managed sustainable stocks and farms.

END WASTE: In the UK we throw away 1/3rd of the food we buy and so much packaging that we’re running out of landfill sites. A bit more planning saves money and helps our environment.

AVOID PROCESSED: It’s cheaper and healthier to buy fresh food instead of mass produced products with ingredients lists that look like a chemistry lesson and that take loads of energy to produce.

You’ll find more information on our website about each of these choices, we’ve also made a series of 90 second videos to explain why each one is so pertinent.

One thought on “Introducing hiSbe: “Bring on the Shopper Power!”

  1. My mother in law gave me your book for Christmas, beaucse she knows this is an interest of mine and beaucse she is friends with Joshua’s mom, Terry. I am loving the book and your blog (that I stumbled on while googling local grains haha), but we live in Peoria, AZ, so many of the things you can grow there we cannot here. Do you know of anyone like you that lives here? I really need connections for locally grown produce and grains. I have a few ideas and am visiting a farm in Scottsdale next week that is a resource as well, but thought asking you might yield even more information. We will be building our first chicken coop soon so excited!! Thanks for your book it has given us the kick in the pants we needed been thinking this way for awhile, but only had a minimal garden til now. Hoping to expand soon, but taking each step as we can so as not to overwhelm and make us want to quit. Jill Creed

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