Monday, October 13, 2014

My food choices and other options

Slow Food unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature.  Carolo Petrini, Slow Food founder and president.

I’ve been thinking lots about my food – where it comes from, what it means for me, and what it costs in the fuller sense of cost. This was spurred on by Bec at Think Big, Live Simply, who has offered to help me with my garden. She sent me a questionnaire that asked some simple questions but they challenged me. The first one was ‘do you have a food or vegetable garden?’  I started thinking what does she mean by food or vegetable?  Aren’t vegetables food? Is there more to food than just vege’s?  The next question that challenged me was ‘what do you love about your garden?’  and ‘what’s the biggest motivation for starting a garden?’ – she asked Is it to save money on food, to create a beautiful space, support your health, teach others about how food is grown? Something else?

My answer was several fold  - Gardening  is a relaxation for me – I like to tend to it, create spaces and grow food. I love sharing food – either sharing the raw produce or the cooked outcomes. I like being connected to the earth . We believe it’s good to grow and eat as close to home as we can. I like to grow somethings to bottle or freeze for the slower months. 

This got me to thinking about the food that I don’t grow or produce at home – where does it come from?  By what criteria do I choose the food we buy? It’s pretty difficult to be fussy about everything we eat but it’s none-the-less important to consider it. So I started reading about the slow food movement. 

Slow Food was founded to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and peoples dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. 

Slow Food Australia chairman Nick Padol says the group encourages consumers to be aware of the globalised nature of agribusiness and to buy goods that are local to where you live. 

Thinking about the cost of food I found this shocking - A typical basket of groceries from the supermarket has “food miles” equivalent to two loops of the globe. 

I really want to make choices that will be good for my health, the health of my community and the planet in the long run. It seems there are plenty of idea’s out there to help me make these choices.

Meatless Monday – a challenge or movement or habit, MM want you to think about the environmental consequences of what you eat. To think about the energy, water and chemicals used to produce your food, as well as the fuel it takes to get it to your plate. It is also encouraging  us to think about the health consequences of what we eat and what foods will serve our wellness long into the future.
Sustainable food movement – campaign for consumers to eat only goods the contribute to the viability of the earth and the future.
Locavores – those who eat only those products that can produced in their immediate area – some put a cap on it. The point is to watch for food miles – cost of transport includes the cost on the environment and the future. Buying local also has the side affect of ensuring freshness, maximising access to the nutrients.
Organic – no use of chemicals, pesticides or herbicides. Saves the earth, ensures food is better for you, and if grown locally, reduces transportation and food miles.
Freeganism – people who attempt to eat as much as possible for free. More like an anti consumer group, it claims to reduce carbon output by consuming what others have rejected. (typically freegans eat packaged food that shops throw out). 

I read a study that looked at Australians perspectives of the Slow Food Movement.  This author suggested that the SFM  wants to counter to rise of ‘standardisation of taste and homogenisation of culture via making regional cuisines and ingredients, artisan cooking techniques and sustainable agriculture  available to all. I really liked that idea, that regional food and cuisine would encourage us to enjoy our food while keep the environmental costs low. 

The outcomes from this study noted that respondents linked slow food movt to

  • Purchasing/ obtaining local and fresh produce, ‘natural’ and hand made
  • Healthier choices
  • Being able to locate the start of the production methods
  • Things being ‘certified’ organic, GM Free etc...
  •  Building stronger communities
  • Ethical consumption – sustainable, good for the environment and fair trade...
  • Elite, and for the rich – difficult for the poor to sustain the purchasing power
  • A personal choice

So, thanks to Becs questions, I’ve thought more about the food I eat that doesn’t come from my garden. I’ve come to a few aspirational goals,  

  • Swap food with others locally
  • Go to the farmers markets more frequently
  • Aim to purchase food produced at least within my State
  • Choose local over organic – no point buying organic peas from California when the cost of their travel far outweighs the cost of production here in Australia.
  • Learn more recipes using products I can access locally
  • Try to do meatless Mondays and choose more locally and more sustainable meat products (we love kangaroo in our house)... 
Slow Food Australia
Body and Soul - Info on different food movements
Melbournes Slow Food Market partnership

 I've just found out that this week is Fair food week. So I had to find out what that is.....During Fair Food Week 2014 local communities will host a wide diversity of events ranging from slow cooking and underground restaurants to free training in skills such as making sourdough bread and butchering. Maybe you can do something to celebrate fair food week in your area.


Jeanie said...

This is a fascinating post. I know a little about the slow food movement but this detailed much more. During the summer it is very easy for me to eat close to home -- between garden things and farmer markets, as well as regional produce it's not so hard. Winter makes it far more difficult. I hadn't heard of Meatless Mondays but it was interesting to realize the impact. I eat meat but certainly not every day -- in fact, probably only three times a week, most times. I had no idea I was doing good!

Val Ryan said...

This very same thing has been on my mind after discovering I have a sensitivity to wheat. I'm living healthier, eating healthier and feel healthier. Your blog was very informative!

Tamara said...

I've just found out that this week is also Fair food week. So I had to find out what that is.....During Fair Food Week 2014 local communities will host a wide diversity of events ranging from slow cooking and underground restaurants to free training in skills such as making sourdough bread and butchering. It seems to draw on locavore, fair trade and slow food movement principles.

Brona Joy said...

I've been exploring these options for a few years now in an attempt to be healthier, to be a more ethical, responsible consumer, to practice environmental harm reduction, to support local producers & culture and to be more creative.

I never knew that cooking slow, local, ethically and thoughtfully could be such a creative buzz for my soul (as well as our stomachs!)

I'm not consistent; I wax and wane; but I always return.

Thanks for being my latest prompt - great post :-)

Tamara said...

Ladies, thank you for your comments. I think you've encouraged me to post a little more about my food choices journey. Stay in touch... ask more questions, I'm happy to do the research.