Doing an inventory of your pantry might uncover some foods that have gone the distance... Rice noodles from Thailand (7,389 km), tinned chickpeas from Italy (16,094 km), lemons from the USA (13,594 km), frozen spinach from New Zealand (2,491 km)... And while they may be cheap and convenient, the costs of other impacts add up, such as travel related carbon pollution, uncertainty around production processes overseas, the fate of our local farmers whose products we bypassed, and nutritional degradation. But, eating more locally can be quite easy, with simple tips to help you reduce your 'food miles'.
Eating locally benefits everyone!One of the primary reasons eating locally is so good is because it is much kinder to our environment - travel time from farm to plate is shorter and refrigerated storage requirements are significantly less, so there is less fuel required, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions produced. It also allows you, the consumer, to:
- celebrate and enjoy Australia's own beautiful produce;
- reap the nutritional benefits of freshly harvested and produced foods that haven't travelled long distances or spent long periods of time in refrigeration;
- keep money flowing through your local community, in turn stimulating opportunity, enterprise and jobs all around you; and
- be part of the change for good, and take a big proactive step to mitigate global warming.
- keep more of the profit, and are in turn encouraged to invest in climate friendly processes and innovations;
- employ more local people; and
- support other local businesses and service providers.
1. Read food labels
Simply buying Australian grown produce or products instead of imported is a significantly positive first step. So flip the packet over or scan the tags to check where it is made.
Bee One Third is 100% raw Australian honey
2. Learn about when foods are in seasonWhile supermarkets sell all food types all year round, all food has a season of production. In season produce is more more likely to be local. It is also more nutritionally dense (1), won't have been subject to ripening agents (like chemicals, gasses, heat treatments), tastes better, and is often cheaper.
3. Strike up a conversation with your green grocer, butcher, baker or market stall holderLearn more about the food you are buying from the people you buy it from.
4. Be willing to try something different
Choosing to eat local might mean you need to be willing to eat foods you don't normally eat. Dried figs are a good example - they're popular here in Australia, but most of the dried figs we find on our shelves are from Turkey. Australian grown dried figs are rare, so why not substitute for another Australian grown dried fruit, or dehydrate your own.
Australian Bush Superfoods includes recipes that use Australian native foods
5. Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, and keep chickens
You'll know exactly where your food came from if you grow it yourself! See our Australian seeds and grow kits here.Don't have space in your backyard or patio? Join a community garden.
6. Cook meals using fresh and wholefoods food instead of processedIt is much easier to figure out where fresh and wholefoods came from compared with processed foods that are made up of lots of ingredients. They're healthier for you too. This might also involve packing your own lunch each day, instead of buying takeaway. You can see waste free lunch boxes here.
Planetbox lunch boxes are fun, strong and built to last
7. Visit pick-your-own farmsGo straight to the source and pick your produce yourself! Pick your own farms are a great way to support local farmers while stocking up on the freshest fruit and veg going! Queenslanders, this list is a great place to start.
8. Purchase locally grown and produced alcoholIn your search engine, type cellar doors, distilleries or breweries near me and pick your alcohol up where it has been produced!
New York Times bestseller, Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of her family making the shift to local and homegrown food.