‘There is a much better way of doing things, better for your heart and soul and spirit’,Phil Haughton
What is your job about?
I am the Managing Director of the Better Food Company. We have two organic shops and our aspiration is to build the Better Fairer Food Community for everybody so that is fairer for the farmer, for any intermediate person, for the shop, for the customers and for the staff that work in the shop.
What issues do you address?
As a business we turn over 3.5 million and we have a lot of people who want us to buy food. So one of my main job is to make sure that the food that we are off to sell is good food. People want to sell all sorts of food and it is really important that we choose carefully what we say yes to and what we say no.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
When I started the Better Food Company, I started out with £500 and I gradually built it up.
At the beginning it was just me and then gradually I got more people involved and now the Better Food Company has got 55 employees. The first ten years of my business, I could not take much of a living out of it. I used to be very focused on just organic and nothing else was allowed in. Although in my heart I knew this was the right approach I realized this was making people frightened by my business. So I decided to allow something that was not 100% organic into the business. This new approach began to make quite a difference for people coming into our business so it began to be more successful. The opening of the Cafè in the shop gave people another reason to come in.
What helped you keep going in hard times?
“The first ten years at the Better Food Company I would not have got that far if it was not for my tenacity. It was sometimes painful and depressing, I got depressed almost clinically depressed at that time, because I was just fighting and fighting and not really looking after myself. I would never do that again. I think there is a much better way of doing things which is much better for your heart and soul and spirit and for everybody who works around you as well, so they could be happier people”.
What first prompted you to become interested in environmental issues and when was that?
I firstly became interested in the environment when I was a teenager. For my birthday when I was sixteen, my mum bought me a subscription to the Soil Association. I started reading what I had been given for my birthday and I found it very interesting. Two years later we moved to Scotland and that was when I started farming there. Since then I have just never looked back.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?
Two months ago I would have probably been into something like 6 because I was actually struggling with things and feeling quite depressed, but that was just a little journey I was going on. Actually, in the last couple of weeks I have really come out with something and I am feeling very very happy so I would say 8.