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30 March 2012

Hungry? Hitch up with the local food wagon

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People are asking questions.  People want to know not only where their food comes from, but who grew their food - not just a name, but details ... What motivates the grower?  How do they look after their soil?  What does the farmer do with their spare time?  Do they have kids?  What's their favourite food? 

There is a groundswell of interest in the producer-consumer connection, and Australian organisation, Food Connect has been tending this relatively fallow soil for many years, confident that the concept will come to fruition - afterall, it may have a crucial role in saving the world from hunger.  Based on the principles of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Food Connect delivers weekly boxes bursting with seasonal produce from local farmers living within a short radius of Food Connect Brisbane and Food Connect Sydney.

Food Connect explains: CSA is an innovation in the growing and distributing of food that aims for farmers and consumers to share the risk involved in food production. CSA seeks to address the environmental and social problems associated with industrial agriculture through a shared commitment to local and regional food systems that provide fair financial returns to small family farms. Consumers are effectively investing in the future security of their food supply.  Food Connect works hard at communicating the story and strengthening the bond between the growers and the consumers.  Each week they update the blog with details of what you can expect in your box, along with links to the stories of the farmers who grew the produce. Incredible detail.

You can read more about Food Connect founder Robert Pekin here on the Locavored blog.

People want to feel a connection.  As Sarah Robins writes in her article I don't buy food from strangers (that's a clever bumper sticker by the way) 35,000 people shop at a Victorian farmers’ market each weekend, lured by provenance, variety, freshness and quality, a minimal carbon footprint and the opportunity to engage directly with growers and support the local economy.

As we were working on this post, ABC's Landline program on Sunday, 1 April, aired a fascinating story on food security, The Hunger Games (watch the video or read the transcript).  In the next 40 years the world has to produce as much food as we have produced in the last 500 years.  Julian Cribb, author of The Coming Famine says: We're running out of water, we're running out of oil, we're running out of agricultural science and technology. We're running out of fish, we're running out of stable climates. So all of those things playing together are creating a greater insecurity in the world's food supply at a time when demand is poised to double.  The story looks at how we can increase agricultural output, as well as how people can grow more food in the cities and how much food we waste in Australia (we throw away about $5 billion worth).

Our loss of "connectivity" with food is part of the problem according to Michael D'Occhio of University of Queensland. In the Landline story, he says: ...we have no respect for food in Australia, we don't appreciate the value of food like our grandparents did after the Second World War... We've lost connectivity with what's required to produce food, what's required to make food available on a consistent basis and indeed the effort that our farmers put into providing us with the quality of food that we produce.

Want to know more about who grew your food? Check out these resources
Brisbane - Food Connect; Northey Street City Farm.
Organic Brisbane blog
In Melbourne - CERES Fair Food an inner city farm that hosts farmers’ markets and sells weekly fruit and vegetable boxes to locals.
Purchase this fabulous new book The Field Guide to Victorian Produce, or indulge in the sumptuous articles on the associated blog
Sydney - Food Connect
All over
Sustainable Table  - an environmental not-for-profit organisation that uses food as an entrée to explore sustainability issues.  Purchase the book and explore more resources.

Live elsewhere in Australia?  See this page on the Food Connect website with a list of CSAs in other places.

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


HP said...

Just picked up my first Food Connect box from around the corner. I've already demolished a mandarin, an apple and an end of the Turkish loaf for testing purposes. All delicious!

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