In a study by Dr. Moya Kneafsey from Coventry University called Re-connecting consumers, food and producers: exploring ‘alternative’ networks, it was found that
“Through participation, consumers tended to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables, and improve their cooking skills and knowledge about food. “
The study was of ‘alternative food networks’. Which means things as varied as: organic vegetable boxes, community gardens and farm animal adoption.
It was an intensive study of six different types of alternative food networks involving 89 people. The research involved interviews, a follow-up phone and more in-depth qualitative research with some as well, over the course of a year. It’s a very thorough study.
The reasons for people being involved in alternative food networks were many and varied. The people involved usually enjoyed the relationships with the producers of the food and felt reassured about the foods quality and safety. Those involved usually did not trust the quality and safety of supermarket food (saying they only shopped in supermarkets because they had to).
There was also some evidence that people began to make other changes to their lifestyle – such as the clothes they purchased.
This is a good illustration of the way that that having a sense of agency improves our health. (See The Status Syndrome by Michael Marmot for an in depth study of this.) This is a very different approach to counting calories, setting goals, being disciplined and so on.
Getting involved in local organic co-ops and so on not only helps the planet, it also will improve your health. There are also global issues – the most widespread movement doing something about this is probably FairTrade who you can contact in Australia and New Zealand, or by googling on Oxfam or FairTrade in other places.