By Fiona Haywood
An increasing number of people want to understand the provenance of their food and make well-informed consumer decisions – seeking the freshest, tastiest most nutritional food, produced ethically and with the minimum environmental impact, buying local produce where possible.
However, I’ve often made purchases on the basis of promotions such as ‘Locally Grown’ – only later to come to the realisation that the produce has been picked, packed (highly packaged), stored and transported for days, even weeks via distribution depots before making it back to the shelves of a local store.
In a State the size of Victoria, let alone a country the size of Australia, a lot of ‘food miles’ can be clocked up. Perhaps some produce can be forgiven for being a bit limp and tasteless.
Buying locally, for me, is not only an issue of reducing ‘food miles’ and getting the freshest produce but also a desire to support farmers and growers in my local community – an outdated sentiment perhaps but it also relates to another challenge –
I’ve previously made purchases based on what I thought some labelling and food production certifications represented, discovering upon investigation that the criteria to be met for use of terms such as ‘Organic’ or ‘Free Range’ for example don’t necessarily represent chemical free or the highest standards of animal husbandry I was seeking.
Wherever possible, I like to understand from local farmers and growers what they do and why and make my purchasing decisions based on that. It’s also a great way to understand what’s best, truly in season and what will be available soon.
Whilst I do freeze or preserve some produce, it’s never really as tasty and nutritious as when fresh. I really enjoy cooking with the seasons and there’s a wide variety of seasonal recipes out there. I’ll be posting some recipes I’ve tried and liked.
For so many of us, there aren’t enough hours in the day – busy with work, bringing up families, caring for others. However, if you’ve got a bit of garden or just a few herb pots, I’d encourage you to have a go at growing some veggies – fresh is definitely best.
We – Nick and I recognise, as back breaking as our lifestyle might be, that we are very lucky. We know exactly where and how the majority of our food has been grown – on our small acreage, not too far from the kitchen door, without the use of chemical herbicides or pesticides (much to the amusement of a staggering range of pests that like to visit us).
We’d be delighted to offer you our veggie boxes or veggie bags – if only to supplement your own efforts.