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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eating 100



It was David Suzuki who first turned me on to eating locally and really questioning where my food came from and how much excess energy went into bringing food to my plate. I live in Australia, a food bowl for the globe, so why are we exporting so much good produce and then importing the same food that is grown here? Why do we need ALL food ALL year round regardless of the season? How do we justify air freighting fruit from the other side of the world? Worse, how do we justify picking fruit green and then gas ripening it or radiating it to transport better and spoil less?

The eat 100 challenge is about eating only the produce that is found within a 100 mile radius of where you live. If you were to take this challenge to it's enth degree, then you would really be forced to microscope your food supply. Meat, vegetables, dairy, flour....all pretty easy, but what about salt, rice, spices? How could I live without a curry? So I use the challenge more as a moral/ethical goal post if you like. I try to source everything from Tasmania, and you would be astounded if I told you about the diversity grown in this state. For instance, wasabi farmers and saffron farmers and truffle farms (gorgeous images), just to name a few.

When I cannot source what I need here the next step is to find the closest source, the least expenditure of petrol is what I'm foremost thinking of and also the ecological footprint as far as packaging and marketing goes. If it's not in season, I don't have it, I look forward to the glut of good produce when it is in season.

My support group with this goal in mind are the small business owners. They are in touch with their produce and where it's sourced. My spice shop supports fair trade. My vegetable store can tell me exactly where everything comes from and can advise me of produce predicted up/down-turns. They have an intimate knowledge of local weather and what it means for next weeks potato harvests. We enjoy true dairy products from a local farming concern where they are streaks ahead of everyone else and know the importance of value adding to their produce.

Of course the first steps are in the home garden and we have been gradually replacing old ornamentals with food producing plants. We are fortunate to have room for our own chooks. Much of our basic food comes from the garden. "A Year of Slow Food" written by David Foster is a lovely read of ordinary day to day food in an Australian family. I have a deeper appreciation for the animals that become our food, dare I say it borders on the spiritual. To spend days, weeks and months caring, tending and raising your food on a daily basis changes the way you view a roast chicken meal with roasted root vegetables and beans. It's not just the 20 mins of prep time and the hour and a half of cooking, it's the ten weeks of raising a meat chicken, the culling and the weeks of cultivating the vegetables. I really believe that a part of society's downfall will be the homogeneous piece of chemically induced, genetically modified chicken breast on a polystyrene plate wrapped in cling film, thrown unceremoniously into a metal trolley with complaints of how dear everything is getting.

Rhonda has recently posted on her blog Down-To-Earth about the Kitchen Revolution. It's about getting the raw ingredients and making things from scratch. It's doing away with excessive chemicals and packaging. Another really cool "side effect" of such a revolution is that you will find yourself less and less in the large super stores. Craig and I go so seldom now that on our last trip to get something we couldn't get from the local store, I found myself goggling and feeling slightly disorientated as if I was in a foreign environment where once I had visited at least on a weekly basis. I used to throw out so much food in those days and I feel ashamed of the waste; the waste of fuels that went into the wasted produce, the packaging and the careless disregard for the time and energy taken to farm fresh produce. So that's on a personal level....imagine that multiplied by a nation. How much fuel did a nation waste that week that we all threw out a rotting lettuce head and a soft zucchini?

So it seems that I have rambled a bit but what I really want to impress upon you is shop and eat locally. It reduces waste, ecologically it's sensitive and it builds a community and community relationships. It creates more conscious people. If we are what we eat, and we just chuck a piece of homogeneous meat and radiated vegetable down our mouths without even tasting it or thinking about it, well what does that make us, physically and spiritually? It's not possible or practical for most of us to grow all our food but we can make more conscious and ecologically sensitive choices. If you are worried about cost versus convenience then rest assured, the extra you pay for organic and local is the amount that you saved by not throwing out so much food and by making your own biscuits, bread and pasta etc.
I'm probably preaching to the converted but if just one person goes to the eat 100 site and finds their 100 miles here, then we are one more family stepping forward to turning this planet around.

6 comments:

  1. WE try to eat locally and organic.....our organic shop has just about all we need

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  2. I live in rural Queensland just west of Brisbane. I also try to eat locally. I tried when living in Brisbane but it was not very easy although I didn't use the supermarkets much. It is better here as we have good local markets. Oddly I use the local supermarkets (grocery stores?) more here as the actual choice of shops is less. Jill of Laidley

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  3. I knew you would be Deb with your garden AND you wouldn't be buying processed food with all that wonderful cooking you do.
    Thanks for sharing Jill. I was originally born in Blackall in central QLD and 100 miles in that area is pretty desolate! Very hard to eat only food found in that area. Which area are you in Jill?
    The eat 100 philosophy is about choosing the closest food options. For instance we have outstanding apples and oranges here in Australia that we export to the world but most of the juice on supermarket shelves is made IN Australia FROM imported fruit??? That is nuts! It's what Dick Smith was trying to do with his campaign....save the grass roots.

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  4. What an excellent post. We do need to be ever vigilant over what we eat.

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  5. What a timely post Tanya. I live in an apartment, but I've just planted some tomato seeds and they are growing. Here in the UAE there are so many imported foods, but the local produce is plentiful and i shop locally and organically as much as I can. I admit the shame of throwing out a head of rotted lettuce a month ago and since that time I've been buying small heads of lettuce, chopping and prepping it as soon as I get it home and storing it in a reusable baggie I made with a bed of paper towel inside. This allows it to keep fresh longer and because its small I use it up quickly. I'd rather run out instead of wasting. thanks for the links to and great post.

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  6. Great post Tanya, really makes you think doesn't it? And thanks for the links to the Tasmanians growing truffles, wasabi and saffron! How interesting. I am from Tassie but living in Melbourne and I can't wait to get back there so I can have my long-dreamt-for farm!

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