Kies Lokaal (Choose Local) is a platform Slow Food Netherlands set up in the beginning of the 2020 pandemic in The Netherlands to support local producers. Saskia Litooij, one of the founders, tells us how the initiative came about and why it was important to Netherlanders during Covid-19
Kies Lokaal (Choose Local) is a platform Slow Food Netherlands set up in the beginning of the 2020 pandemic in The Netherlands to support local producers. The page contains addresses in all twelve provinces in the Netherlands and allows people to nominate their own (favorite) businesses to be added on. In a very short timeframe, a map was set up to inform the wider public where they could buy good, clean and fair food locally. Thanks to this solidarity action Slow Food managed to inspire people to support their local producers, so they could better survive the crisis.
“As soon as Covid-19 hit the Netherlands in March 2020, we felt the urge to help out local and small-scale producers. A significant amount of their sales dropped due to the fact that restaurants had to close their doors and were no longer able to buy ingredients from small scale farmers and producers”, explains Saskia Littooij, one of the creators. Thanks to the help and support of Slow Food Netherlands and to the local press, which helped spreading the news, Kies Lokaal immediately had a great success. “We had never expected this webpage to be such a hit!”, continues Saskia. “We felt that many consumers were interested in new ways of supporting local farmers and local, artisanal producers. Moreover, we noticed that the pandemic resulted a trigger for increased interest in short chains and locally produced food. This had been going on for some time, but because of the pandemic, it had accelerated”. Besides the pandemic, this platform is very useful to find local producers and get to know our territory.
Are there any tips for people in other countries who would want to do something similar?
“Just do it! Ask around for enthusiastic people like you to set up a web page and start telling other people about it. For example, write blog posts with certain tips that link to your web page and make sure you inform the press about your project. Also, try to think about creative ways to involve your audience (think of a short, catchy and relevant #hashtag and make it viral). Enjoy the project and good luck!”.
And now what comes?
We are finally in a time in which restaurants and shops are slowly starting to open up again, and it is clear that the Kies Lokaal map is far from a temporary solution: It’s here to stay. Having recently launched the book ‘the Ark of Taste in the Netherlands’, one of our main goals at Slow Food the Netherlands is to get people to buy and eat the Ark products and make that as easy for them as possible. The Kies Lokaal map is the perfect tool for that. This does not mean the initial addresses on the map will be replaced. Rather, they will extend the map and fill it with producers and retail points for Ark of Taste products. You can go to the website and select the category ‘Ark van de Smaak’ (Ark of Taste) and see all the locations across the map of the Netherlands. Have fun!