Saturday, 30 January 2016

Eating Local and Regional Produce

"For more than a decade now, nef has been developing the idea that local food production can underpin thriving local economies.
It is an idea that builds on our concept of using money flows more effectively. You don’t always need extra money to revive your local economy – it can be a matter of using the existing money better so that it doesn’t flow out again at the first exchange." 

*As I write this I am looking at a large watermelon that I am going to slice up today. It was passed over the fence by our neighbours and was grown on one of the local farms.  I have pumpkin roasting in the oven. It was bought at an on farm shop. We had some of this pumpkin the other night. The flavour was out of this world.

Many parts of the region in which  I live have beautiful rich red or chocolate brown volcanic soil. Our aquaculture industry produces: Silver Perch, Sleepy Cod, Jade Perch, Dawson River Perch, Murray Cod, Barramundi, Crab, Prawn, Redclaw, Scallops, and Soft Shell Crab.

Our local fishing industry catches: Prawns, Spanner Crabs, Reef Fish, Mackerel, Scallops and Mullet. However many other species are available in the local waters that are not in the target market for professional fishermen.

We have local producers of: strawberries, avocados, watermelon, macadamia, chillies, figs, bananas, oranges, mandarins, lemons, flowers, zucchinis, pumpkins, tomatoes, corn, lavender, some boutique wine producers,  beans, button squash, cucumber, custard apple, eggplant, honeydew melon, lychee, mango, passionfruit, potatoes, rockmelon, snowpeas, capsicum, honey, sweet potatoes, olives blueberries and sugarcane.
Despite all this local abundance most of the local population buy their fruit and vegies at  Coles and Woolworths. Many of our locals have probably heard about 'food miles', but I wonder how many have stopped to think about what food miles really are. A food mile is the distance measured between where the food was grown to where it is eaten. Consider too the additional food miles traveled by fertilisers, fodder, fuel….. the list goes on and on.

  If we were to change our eating habits to eat locally produced food then some of the foods we currently enjoy, would be off the menu. In my case that would include chocolate and porridge. We would be eating foods in season only, rather than all year round as we do with many imported foods now. Food would be more nutritious as it may spend less time in cold rooms.  I think the first step to including more local produce is to know what is in season. Now days many people, including me, have no idea of what is actually in season, as it seems like nearly everything is available year round. 

Do you eat local and seasonal produce? How do you know what foods are in season?

* I wrote this post earlier this year.