Let’s take a peek inside your shopping basket and check out the labels on the produce you’re buying from the supermarket. You may have asparagus from Mexico, broccoli from China or tomatoes from Italy. Where are the fresh fruit and vegetables grown on Australian farms?
The advertising of supermarket chains featuring smiling and trustworthy Akubra-wearing farmers, can be misleading when the produce on the shelves has been imported. Rather than providing us with the fresh fruit and veg grown on Australian farms, as the sneaky marketing campaigns suggest, supermarkets often source cheaper supplies overseas of fresh, canned and frozen ingredients.
Perhaps we have lost sight of what’s important and, what is good for us. In the simpler days of our forefathers, the seasons were important and the food eaten was not only home-cooked, it was made with the product of the surrounding land – grain from the field, apples from the trees, potatoes from the soil. Flash forward to the ‘need it now’ mentality of today and many ingredients are being imported and made available to us throughout the year.
What can we do to support our local farmers? The good news is, we can all get involved. There are three simple things you can do to help.
1. BUY LOCAL
For nearly 15 years, Hawkesbury Harvest, a not-for-profit community association in New South Wales has been working to encourage people to buy local produce. Hawkesbury Harvest is the creator of the Hawkesbury Harvest Farm Gate Trails, an agri-tourism initiative that gives people a country experience through visits to rural farms where they can talk to farmers and purchase fresh produce at the very place it was grown. The Farm Gate Trails are located in the Hawkesbury, Sydney, Hills / Brooklyn, Penrith, Wollondilly and South Coast areas which are at most, an hour away from the city of Sydney.
Hawkesbury Harvest volunteer Alan Eagle believes it’s important to support local farmers.
“Buying local means the food has travelled fewer miles and this saves farmers time and money in transporting their produce. When produce is sold to supermarkets, travel time has to be allowed for so the produce sold to supermarkets can be picked a few days before it is ripe, when it’s a little harder. When you buy direct from a farmer the food is fresh and ready to eat.”
As well as the health benefit of nourishing your body with natural food, buying local puts money back into the community, keeps farmers in business and results in less energy and resources spent on transporting food.
Want to give local eating a try? Sign up for the Local Harvest Challenge in April. Local Harvest are encouraging people to spend one week eating locally and supporting local and organic farmers and businesses. You can choose from three different levels of commitment – bite-sized, meal-sized or feast-sized.
Check out the other posts in this series for more ways we can support local farmers.