All consuming

10 May 2007

Whether it is tending a vegie garden, gathering foods from natural surroundings or braving the supermarket ,it seems that gathering, producing and presenting a tasty, nutritious meal on time and on budget falls into the lap of the lady of the household.

Even though we have a vegie garden this family relies for most of its sustenance on local shops. We live within walking distance of two large and busy national chain supermarkets. They have a high turnover so their fresh foods is fresh-ish. You never know how long things have been in cold store before they make it to the supermarket shelves.

We do patronise smaller greengrocers and health food stores but this requires using a car and unless you want to be continually tripping back and forth you need to plan well and invest substantial amounts of time. We do have a fledgling fortnightly farmer's market and when we go into the country we check out the farm stalls and pick-your-own fruit farms.

The supermarket is much more convenient. In past weeks the supermarket prices have been going up and up and I'm not sure the farmers are getting the extra money. I don't like the monopoly these large corporations have on our food supply and I don't like the power they have over how far my food budget stretches.

There is a movement in the US called the 100 Mile Diet where people try to eat only those foods grown and produced within a 100 mile radius of their home. Couple this with a lecture I attended a couple of years ago that put forward the idea that for good health we should only be eating those foods which thrive within our climate zone and you have a new way of deciding which foods to spend your food dollars on.

Obviously foods from your own garden or traded with neighbours best fill these two criteria, local and suited to your climate and season. Also most probably organically grown and definitely ethically grown. Farmer's markets, farm stalls, local fairs and smaller greengrocers, butchers and delicatesans should also have local seasonal produce, though not necessarily, you would have to ask.

Tasmania is an island and as I live in the north of the state, a 100 mile radius takes in quite a lot of sea and cuts out produce from the south of the state so I am going to investigate Tasmanian produced food and see how much of my family's food can be sourced "locally".

We will be OK for dairy products, meat, potatoes, apples, pears, stone fruits and berries, root vegetables and plenty of greens. Also beer, cider and wine won't be a problem but I'm not sure about flour. I know it was grown here during the early days of white settlement because southern Tasmania was known as the Bread Basket of the colonies but I'm not sure if it is still produced as it was quite a soft flour and not so good for bread. I'm appalled that I don't know this already. Sugar of course doesn't grow here neither do citrus fruits apart from lemons and maybe some home grown greenhouse oranges on the NW coast. No bananas, watermelon, peanuts, cashews - my favourites. Plus lots of spices and coconut and COCOA don't grow here. Oh and tea and coffee.

My mission over the next month or so will be to see how much of our food we can source locally. I won't worry about whether it is organically grown or not, although that would be a bonus, as I'm more concerned with food miles and a more self sufficient food supply. I can't see the point in buying organically produced food if it has had to travel a zillion miles to get to you. I am concerned that my food is ethically produced, the main area of concern there would be meat , egg and dairy production.

This is going to be really interesting. Will I be able to increase our consumption of local foodstuffs while staying within my money and time budget?

8 Responses to “All consuming”

  1. I think that you will enjoy this but also find it frustrating. I had a go earlier this year and found it very difficult. I tried to limit to UK as actual areas often aren't identified but that was difficult. At one point I couldn't get any green veg at all and we got fed up with swede! I now realise how much of our fresh stuff comes from Italy, Spain and Israel.
    I also had to forgo organic as a large proportion of that is imported.
    Good Luck. I am looking forward to hearing how you get on.

  2. It's a great idea - I'll be checking back to see how you go with this. I'm in Canberra, and think it would work pretty well here - we've got wheat, and sea, and fruit and veg areas - maybe even rice (have to check the map.)

  3. I guess we all have a love hate relationship with the supermarkets, they do make life so very much easier. Shame there isn't an easier way to reduce food miles, eat fresh at reasonable prices, organic etc etc etc.

  4. There is a farmers market near my home, but they are open only on Sunday mornings when I am at church. That frustrates me to no end.

    For now I'm still trying to figure out how to get the most yeild from my little ktichen garden.

  5. I also love growing our own fruit and veges. At present in our garden we have tomato plants, pumpkin plants, a herb garden, a lemon tree, mandarin tree, orange tree, apple tree, 2 Feijoa trees and a lime tree - at least we know they haven't been sprayed with pesticides or other nasties :-)

  6. Your sentiment is SO right on! IN the SF bay area in the heart of California we're lucky as this is somewhat do-able. But I often debate this issue with a friend from Boston where for most months of the year she hardly sees a fresh vegetable.

  7. I was browsing the diggers club catalogue (just google for link) and they sell both carob and tea plants :)

  8. Good for you! You will enjoy better health too.

    The 100 Mile Diet is a good way to get people thinking about where their food comes from.

    I'm a small farmer in Pennsylvania, USA and I produce most of my own food. What I can't produce I try to buy local.
    Of course Olive Oil,Citrus Fruit, Coffee and Sugar cannot be grown here so there are some limitations.


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