There is no time like the present to be supporting our local farmers. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is we need to keep farmers buoyant; secondly, we have high food standards in Australia that keeps the produce we consume safe; thirdly, we reduce the food kilometres and then consume fresher food. We also need to extend our agricultural land so that in Australia we maintain a strong food supply.
Supporting our local farmers was highlighted recently by the frozen berry products recall. These imported berries were contaminated resulting in a number of people contracting Hepatitis A, a viral disease that affects the liver. Another example of the need to buy locally has to do with red onions. While the Queensland red onion crops were in full swing some independent retailers were importing red onions from US causing a glut in Queensland. I was pleased to hear that Coles and Woolworths have made the commitment to only sell Australian onions.
Independent retailers are still to make this commitment. As the imported onions are suspected of bringing a superbug (Clostridium difficile (C-diff) into Australia knowing where your onions come from becomes even more critical. Given that there are around 29,300 deaths a year in the US from C-diff Australia cannot wait another moment to increase consumer protection at our borders.
What I find is that I get caught in the import trap. I go to the supermarket or even a local market and I am not sure where the fruit and vegetables are being sourced. More food labeling is required so that I and other shoppers are making informed choices about what we buy. There is a “big picture” and I can’t address it all here but to say Australia needs an sustainable agricultural industry. It is not my intention to be political but by the very nature of the subject politics comes into the equation. In 2013 the Queensland Government had a strategy to double agriculture in the state by 2040. With a change of government in Queensland this year what is happening to the strategy now? At least Queensland still has an Agriculture and Fisheries Department and hopefully the issues will continue to be addressed. Supporting local farmers is vital for our food supply and their ongoing viability.
I can only address the “small picture” that is, my behaviour when I go shopping. However, I do have purchasing power and I can put this to use. This is my commitment.
- Buy local produce when at all possible
- Ask where the food I am buying comes from
- Grow more of my own
There must be more I can do to support our farmers? If you have any ideas let me know. Starting the conversation is the first but very vital step.