Hello fresh food! Are you Local?

Eating healthy is a rising trend globally, with governments, school education and reality television promoting home cooking and nutritious healthy food. But eating healthy is more than just fresh food. Farming sustainably and buying nutritious foods produced by local farmers and growers through local businesses is key to healthy communities.

In order to offer better value to consumers, with sustainably grown fresh produce that is healthy and nutritious, communities are working together to build local food distribution businesses and cooperatives for home delivery box schemes. A growing number of organisations, such as Food Connect in Brisbane and Ceres Fair Food in Melbourne, purchase food directly from selected local farmers, pay them a fair price for their food and supply to local communities. Last week my interest was piqued by a ‘HelloFresh’ offer in my mailbox. Surely here is a local fresh food supplier sourcing local foods and working with regional farmers.

Ceres Food market

The offer included 3 free meals of ‘some seriously fresh food!’ delivered to your home and includes packaged goods and meats. The approach is very similar to a local food supplier of organic or biodynamic produce. It was interesting to find that this is a global company,  that provides the service globally, across the USA, Europe and now Australia. “Every week, hundreds of thousands of boxes are sent out from one of (our) fulfilment centres to be delivered to the homes which fall within that region on the time and day of the subscriber’s choice.”

The supermarket giants have just leapt into the space occupied by local businesses and cooperatives. It is not that global competition is bad! It is that the message to the local community just got more confusing! Yes, community need to eat more healthy foods to improve the health of the local community!  But to improve the health of the community we  also need to spend money in local businesses, with local farmers and growers, that use less chemicals on the regional ecology and farm sustainably to improve the region we live in.

The trend towards fresh food is for nutritious healthy food! It means knowing how your food is produced, and eating foods that have less pesticides and chemicals in them, including non-GMO foods. It means supporting Australian regional and urban farmers, small business and regional cities.

When you say hello fresh, will you say hello to healthy nutritious regional foods, from regional business? Know your food, know your community!

Know you farmer, Know your pork!

Food, food, food! We can’t go a day without thinking about it and making choices that effect local businesses and the ethics around good food.

the-farmers-larder

Thankfully there are many amazing Australian producers of quality and ethically produced food around that will not only share with us what it is about their food that is important but what other farmers in the Australian industry are doing.

Your bacon is on my mind! Is that little piggy happy and free range – truly? Is it Australian produced or imported? and how do you tell?

In fact, approximately 70% of pork smallgoods in this country are made from frozen imported pork from pigs grown in cramped conditions overseas. Where you spend your money matters – your money supports the continued production practices of the food you have bought, and the retailer you purchase from. Not only that, where you spend your money can support local businesses, and local artisans of pork small goods. 

Don’t know how to select ethical pork? Well the Flavour Crusader has come to the rescue with their Australian producers ‘ethical and free range pork directory! This directory, while not necessarily conclusive, provides a listing of pork producers across Australia, offering free range production, and some background on the heirloom breeds and lifestyles of some of these pigs.

Globally, in 1995, there were only 50 Wessex Saddleback sows. In Australia in 2011, there were only 12 Hampshire sows registered and under 150 of Large Blacks and Tamworths. Providing a diversity of breeds, means of diversity of pork products and greater resilience in pigs generally. If you want to save their bacon, seek registered purebred pigs, from free range farm production.

 So I ask you – do you want to support pork producers of overseas and shed based pork production practices? Or do you want to see Australian ethical and free range pork production increase, and understand how and where your pork comes from? 

When you think bacon or pork – think local, ethical and free range – and get the right sort of pork on your fork!

so that’s a wrap! #SLFGeelong 2015

Costa&friendsJust three years ago Geelong and the Barwon region took up the mantle and hosted the first Geelong Sustainable Living Festival, coordinated by Future Proofing Geelong, regional councils and local community groups such as Geelong Sustainability Group.

The first year the Geelong region hosted just over forty events over a two week period and community loved it. It gave the region a chance to shine in the knowledge and local expertise as well as international experts such as Andrew Howard of Team Better Block. In the second year there were more events with over sixty events held in the region and visits by Costa Georgiadis of Gardening Australia amongst others. Through a series of school visits and community gardens showcased this built a sense of pride in regional sustainability, food and education in the region.

So how do you top this? In 2015 the Geelong region hosted more than ninety events over three weeks, with a strong focus on educating our children in schools on living sustainably on the land we live on but also the oceans and waterways with a special in-school education program by Tim Silverwood of ‘Take 3’ and more school and community garden visits with the effervescent Costa Georgiadis!

In addition this year saw Geelong West Neighbourhood House and Diversitat come on board with a range of classes from beekeeping in your backyard to cheese making and up-cycling of clothes, as well as the Big Weekend with a two day sustainability expo, free lectures and movies in the Geelong Performing Arts Centre (GPAC).

This year there was again a strong focus on local healthy and nutritious foods, gardening and access to food through food swaps, local farmers produce and the food hub study with community groups and organisations across the region providing events.

GreenCarpet2015_AwardWinners

The festival culminated with two new highlights the Inaugural Green Carpet Awards and a sustainable seafood dinner held with regional community, Surf Coast Shire and City of Greater Geelong.

Held in the courtyard at GPAC on the friday evening and hosted by Costa Georgiadis (yes he was everywhere!) local community celebrated the region with a series of ten awards for sustainability actions, leadership and participation with Future Proofing Geelong.

1. Costa Georgiadis “Quiet Achiever”- Lorna Martin
2. Best Community Project- Geelong Sustainability Directory – Geelong Sustainability group in particular Vivienne Burke and Vicki Perret
3. Low Carbon Growth Plan Community Award – Barwon Heads Sustainability Group for the Community Solar Project
4.SLF Geelong partnership Awards – Healthy Together Geelong for the Active Streets Project in particular the “Silent Disco”
5. FPG Best Sustainable Business Award- GPAC
6. Local Foods Champion – Suzette Jackson, Innate Ecology for championing local food including the ‘Geelong Food Hub Feasibility Study
7. Community Engagement – Heidi Fog, Balanced Sustainability for Children’s Woodwork with the Geelong Mens Shed Network
8. FPG Innovation Award – Suzette Jackson, Innate Ecology for the Geelong Better Block
9. “The Golden Chicken” Volunteer of the Year – Vicki Perret, for effort delivering Geelong Sustainable House Day and SLF Geelong activities on behalf of Geelong Sustainability
10. The People’s Choice Award – Costa Georgiadis
This was a great addition to the annual program and one we hope continues!

SSDinnerThe sustainable seafood project by the Surf Coast Shire was highlighted at the final dinner jointly sponsored by the Surf Coast Shire and Future Proofing Geelong, City of Greater Geelong.

The dinner held at Boom Gallery, was opened by the Surf Coast Mayor Cr Margot Smith and Cr Andy Richards, of Greater Geelong with a special talk by Richard Webb, fisherman and chef working with the Australian Marine Conservation Society. This was followed by a talk by Costa Georgiadis on the importance of resilient longterm healthy food supplies and the importance of understanding the variance in regional food supplies. A brilliant final dinner to end the SLF Geelong 2015. Can’t wait for next year!

RichardWebbThe Sustainable Living Festival, Victoria is held in February each year (since 1998). It mobilises not just the city of Melbourne but regional towns and cities throughout Victoria. It champions activities by the community for the community and so has moved in tune with the growing awareness and understanding of the need to live more sustainably, in our homes, our food, our transport and more. The Tasmania Sustainable Living Festival an annual event in November has been running since the first Environmental Home Expo (Festival) was held in 1999 and has grown from strength to strength annually since then.