21 September 2012

Does locally sourced food contribute to our well-being?

The impact of buying and selling local food produce is to be investigated in a major research project by the University of Essex.

Funded by the East of England Co-operative and the British Academy, the year long project will set out to prove if buying and selling locally sourced food contributes to the well-being of suppliers and consumers. It will also capture the views of farmers on how this affects their livelihoods and the benefits, challenges and potential of supplying to local markets.

Research Officer Dr Zareen Bharucha of the University’s Essex Sustainability Institute said: “There has been an explosion of political, practical and academic interest in local food, but the evidence-base on its precise contributions to mental and physical health and well being is still patchy.”

Research Officer Dr Zareen Bharucha

Research Officer Dr Zareen Bharucha holds some local produce.

Principal Investigator Professor Steffen Boehm said: “For this project we are focussing on the East of England, from the Norfolk coast through to the Thames estuary, but because of the diverse community represented within this area, it will give us a picture of the situation nationally.”

Roger Grosvenor, Executive Officer – Retail of the East of England Co-operative, which has its headquarters in Ipswich, said: “We’re really excited about being involved with this research into the benefits of local sourcing.

“We have seen our own Sourced Locally initiative grow to meet the demand from our members and customers for quality products with local provenance. At the same time we are supporting local producers, including creating jobs and energising the regional economy.

“We look forward to seeing the results of the research and finding out whether there is concrete evidence that sourcing locally improves the health and well being of suppliers and consumers.”

Dr Bharucha is looking for people across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex to take part in the research, seeking those who actively buy locally sourced produce and those who don’t, and farmers, from across the region, who supply local markets. Please contact her on zpbhar@essex.ac.uk.

The results of the research are expected next Spring.


Notes to Editors

High resolution photos of Dr Zareen Bharucha are available on request.

For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 874471 or e-mail: comms@essex.ac.uk.

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