I buy all our fruit and vegetables from our local organic farm and Mum buys direct from local farmers at her local farmers’ market so it came as quite a surprise to me to discover that Australia was importing so much fruit and veg from overseas. In fact Australia’s fresh fruit and vegetable imports decreased 16.5 per cent to 119,579 tonnes worth $410.8m (as at 2018)* so although this is good news it is still way too much coming into our country meaning we are not supporting our own farming industry to grow.
So the question is whether saving a small amount buying imported food is worth the demise of our own local industry and, if it is cheaper, then are the farmers from the country of origin being paid a fair wage? How could they be if it is cheaper?
Even as a children I remember my parents bought locally and we ate seasonally. In fact I distinctly remember as a child shopping at the supermarket and seeing big piles of navel oranges for sale and having a conversation about why we weren’t buying them. That was my first awakening to check the country of origin. These oranges came from California and our local farmers were destroying their trees as they simply couldn’t compete. Back then when climate change was not a main-stream issue my parents were concerned about the quality of food and food miles!
It is just so easy to be caught out and especially if you are rushing or the shop has not complied with the country of origin labelling laws as happened to someone I know recently. They arrived home with a bag of cheap mushrooms that they belatedly realised were from Vietnam (the giveaway was the box his fruit and vegies were packed in). Great recycling BUT!
Buying locally where ever possible means:
• Less food miles - with most imported having to be transported into Australia by plane or boat.
• Avoiding additional chemicals sprayed on the fruit and veg to keep it fresh during the travel time.
• Supporting local farmers and local businesses.
• Knowing that workers have been paid a fair wage
• More likely that you are eating seasonally – let’s face it not all fruit and veg can be grown all year round in Australia.
So this week when you are shopping support your local Australian farmer and buy direct. They will thank you, the planet will thank you and you'll really notice the flavour difference.
Sue and Nikki