FOOD, Food, food! Necessary, often nourishing and often delicious. It brings friends and family together around a table. It can be the catalyst for disagreements or divided opinions. (I have fond memories of early tensions with Gav about how-to-cook-such-and-such in the kitchen; most people might have experienced the tensions of a to-meat or not-to-meat conversation). It's normal to be able to ask myself, 'What are we going to eat this week?' without the pressure of limited resources or options. Instead we have the privelege of a steady income and oh, so much choice. I am very aware of that.
I'm not much of a stickler for rules. This could be to my detriment, or not, depending on how you look at it. We eat a mostly vegetarian diet, mostly low in sugar, mostly from scratch, involving mostly bulk purchased dry goods and mostly chemical free fresh produce. Mostly. Last week saw the first visit to the butcher in I don't know how many years. This week saw the purchase of mostly sprayed produce. It's just how things panned out recently. And it all tasted pretty bloody good.
We have tried a range of options when it comes to food. Supermarket, organic market, CSA subscription, local co-op, local market, local greengrocer, backyard freshness. Supermarket visits are rare these days (when I go to those places all I see is a Treats Store full of discount tags - ice cream, chocolate, nutella, biscuits...best for me to steer clear!). I worked at an organic market for a while quite a few years ago. The discount I got was lovely and leaving with a fresh box of veg always felt good. For a number of years we subscribed to Food Connect (including in a share house) and have done so on and off since then. More recently we attended a food bulk buy. It had the benefits of wholesale prices as well as a fair share of the challenges you'd expect at a 'member run bulk buy group' (I don't think we're supposed to say cooperative). So after that we started going to our local market. Mostly we shop at the one organic stall, and supplement it with bits and pieces with the surrounding growers there. So long as we get to the market on Sunday morning...
As far as some of the rest go, our chickens provide us with eggs, the garden with herbs and some other bits and bobs (currently eggplants, radish, beans, corn, spinach, a tomato here and there), the local bulk buy shop with dried goods and, sometimes, we get our hands on raw milk through a friend. We manage to mostly avoid a trip to the supermarket except as a last resort, usually due to lack of planning (toilet paper is the classic example). A rule of thumb around here (probably easier sans children) is that we don't always have to have everything all the time. This includes bread, milk and cheese. Items that are typically considered staples in our modern, western diet. Not that we don't love the stuff, don't get me wrong!!
However, soon we're sailing (well, driving actually) out of this place and heading to quite a remote little place. And it's in the tropics. There's a weekly market, there's an organic farm out of town, but the possibilities of a local or chemical free range of produce are going to be greatly diminished. And as far as growing our own goes, that's a complete unknown (not to mention the challenges of the climate there). The price of bulk or organic is going to be greatly inflated (I imagine). It's going to be a good reality check about doing what we can and being grateful for the many options that we will still have. Watch this space to see what we find.
There are some interesting and important things happening around food justice at the moment. In Australia there has been a united response to the National Food Plan with the People's Food Plan. Oxfam have also started a campaign called 'Growing a Better Future' that looks at the global food system (and its failings, many people are going hungry). Food Connect are involved with La Via Campesina, a movement defending small-scale agriculture that is definitely worth a look. Food justice (sovereignty) has been an interest of mine for a while but the reality is that I'm more likely to think about what's on my plate this week than what's fair for everyone in the world, so these here links serve as a reminder to me as much as the next person. I wonder what it is each of us can do to ensure there's a 'fair share for everyone'?
Note: Photos were taken at the unveiling of our very last food connect box (it's always an event to see what will be inside). The fig tasted as good as it looks.
Also: I'm pleased to say that our new town will have both a coffee roaster and a brewery!
And: In my perfect world we would be buying little and growing lots. That's the bigger picture that I'll keep dreaming about while we go on this next adventure.