Tuesday, 16 November 2010

I want to know where

my food really comes from. There is another one of those lengthy articles in the paper this morning about how we are importing more food from China, Thailand, the United States and New Zealand.

The only place I feel happy about is New Zealand - and then only partially so. China and Thailand have different production standards altogether. The United States has a great deal of pesticide and genetically modified material that almost certainly appears in what they send us. Those countries are also a long distance away. The carbon footprint to get things here is horrendous. The carbon footprint from New Zealand is bad enough but their production standards are similar to ours.

The foolish thing is that we could feed ourselves in Australia, indeed we should be feeding ourselves. If we were sensible we would be cutting down on carbon emissions by doing just that. Food is relatively the most expensive thing to import. It has to be processed, kept fresh or frozen or packaged. All of that makes it more expensive and production standards cannot be monitored as they are monitored here - and that is not done well enough.

I know that there are arguments about the "balance of trade" but I suspect that there are other ways of handling that. It might take more work but it could be done. We should not be allowing prime agricultural land to be taken over by foreign developers. We should not be building on prime agricultural land adjacent to urban areas. Yes, I know our cities are getting bigger. I know people want to live on a quarter acre block - because that is what they have been told they can do. I know people want bigger and bigger houses. Two people need four bedrooms now. I am not sure why but I know they do. They keep telling me this.

I live in a house a bit like that. There are only two of us. There were six of us for a while. There is a difference though. I will not stay here on my own. Quite apart from the fact that I could not afford to stay I believe it would be morally wrong to do so.

What is more, at the present time we also use the space around our house. We have eleven fruit trees, grape vines and a variety of vegetables in season. My father is not as able or active at almost 88 but he does still garden. I can adjust menus to the season. I can preserve some food in one way or another. I do not need cherries at $29.99 a kilo. We share or exchange surplus food.

I know not everyone has the space for a garden and that climatic conditions can make it difficult for others but even Londoners have window boxes of herbs. My cousin's partner grows tomatoes and herbs and beans on the roof top in London. It can be done.

It seems as if I will need to grow my own food if I want to know where it comes from. It seems that I will need to do this and do it in the right way if I really want to be environmentally responsible. I must go and water the parsley I am nurturing. I know where that comes from. The fish that goes with it? Somewhere in the ocean, hopefully just off the coastline. I must check.


Anonymous said...

The garfish probably does but these days the tuna could come from Thailand...watch it Cat!

Allison said...

So while we import considerable amounts of produce from South & Central America, we're also exporting food to Australia? And I know immense amounts of our farmland is turning into housing tracks. I cannot even begin to count the number of things wrong with this picture.

catdownunder said...

It's scary Allison!

Frances said...

Cat, I think that the 1/4 acre block is long gone, particularly in Adelaide. The small size of blocks in Adelaide is quite noticeable, and I believe that the average is less than half of a 1/4 acre. No room for growing: although I know someone who grows vegetables along the footpath outside her home, with an invitation to passersby to help themselves!

catdownunder said...

There are still some quite large divisions being made in the outer areas of Adelaide Frances. It was under discussion in the local press recently.
In our previous house my father grew strawberries down the driveway and carrots under the hedge between us and the neighbour!

Short Poems said...

True talk!