Food resolutions for 2014
Let’s dodge the cynicism for a moment and discuss resolutions for the new year. Like most people I can’t help but think about what I can do to be better in the coming year – the new habits I’ll form and the old habits I’ll break. Hopping off the slippery slope of gradual weight gain of course is one of those Things I’ll Do Better In Twenty Fourteen, and already I spent Monday morning doing 25 minutes of exercise. The plan was to repeat this routine on Wednesday and Friday mornings, too. We’re up to Wednesday in my new Fitness Regime, and so far I have a 50% completion rate. Not starting well. Last year it was the gym membership at uni – stupidly convenient – and I even went to one yoga class. From all the membership dues I paid, it ended up being a very expensive yoga class and I can’t say it did any wonders for my thighs (so much for value for money).
A couple of days ago I stumbled across a bunch of resolutions from Food Tank, a mob who interrogate the current state of our food system, and explore positive changes that can be made to improve the lives of people, the state of the environment, and our collective future. Food Tank have created 14 food resolutions for 2014, which I think are great. My plan is to explore each one in time, but starting for now just with #1:
1. Meet your local farmer
This can seem tricky when you live in the centre of a major metropolis. Fortunately, farmers do leave their farms, so if you are at a genuine farmers’ market, you’re likely to meet some of the farm folk. Many markets can be a bit disingenuous about this – providing a space for retailers in tents rather than being a direct outlet for farmers to sell their produce (for example, there is a green grocer in our neighbourhood who sets up at the local markets every week as it’s good for business – maybe there is nothing intrinsically wrong with this, but it tends to not be what most folk expect at a market). Though I haven’t been in forever, the Northey Street City Farm markets in inner-north-Brisbane are wonderful and worth getting up early on a Sunday morning (plus you can wander around their permaculture farm).
Something I am really hoping to Actually Do over summer is visit some pick your own farms around South East Queensland. I have magical childhood memories of picking strawberries somewhere not too far away (unless it has been turned into residential developments since then…). Here’s an online resource with details about local farms which allow you to visit and pick your own produce.
Another really fantastic and valuable opportunity is to go along with a local food group on a farm tour. In early spring 2013, Glenn and I went on one of Food Connect’s farm tours, where we visited an organic-in-transition mixed horticultural farm and an organic Jersey milk dairy farm. We saw the wee baby vegetables that would in later weeks be in our bellies. The highlight, predictably though, was meeting the farmers and experiencing their pragmatic passion about the food they produce.
Farmhouse Direct doesn’t exactly let you meet a local farmer, and it’s not entirely local either (Australia is a big continent), but does give you the opportunity to buy directly from producers. It’s a bit like Etsy for Australian produce in that your order goes straight to the producer, and not a third party, but it is facilitated by Australia Post.
Finally, short of meeting a local farmer from whom you buy food, I would suggest thinking about what when into your food next time you’re sitting down to a meal. Try to imagine who produced the main component of your dish. What effort, energy and inputs were required? How many hands has it passed through between the farm and your plate? John Naish in his book Enough argues for a form of secular thanksgiving at every meal where we mindfully appreciate the food we have. I reckon it’s a great idea.