I’m Local: How your weekly shopping trip can change the world (and make you happier)
In the ABC’s 2020 series ‘Fight for Planet A’, host Craig Reucassel invited members of the public to rate the carbon footprint of common food items. With items like milk, beer, steak and tomatoes to choose from, every single person attempting the challenge incorrectly chose the #1 worst environmental choice. The carbon culprit? An unsuspecting asparagus that had been flown in from Mexico. Imagine that lonely asparagus at 38,000 feet, dressed head to toe in preserving pesticides, arriving exhausted to start processing at a giant chain supermarket. That’s one sad vegetable.
Now imagine a lemon on Fanelli Organics’ Farm on the Central Coast. Free to peacefully grow on a sunny acreage without pesticides, the lemon is picked with care on a Friday and makes the comfortable 90-minute trip to Sydney markets on Saturday.
The image of a seriously satisfied lemon is just one great reason to think about local eating. Buying local produce can make you feel healthier, happier and more connected to your community.
Savour the flavour
Locally grown food absorbs the unique landscape of its origin. As travel time from farm to plate is short, there is less need for pesticides and herbicides, and produce flavours are more vibrant and truer to nature. Beyond fruits and vegetables, local meat and dairy’s flavour is more authentic as free–range animals feast on local grass. As NSW has one of the most diverse landscapes in the world, there is an incredible range of flavour profiles right on our doorstep.
You can enjoy Australia’s creamiest milk from cows that feast on local grass at The Pines Kiama or enjoy fragrant Alto Olive oils that have inherited the unique flavour of the Southern Tablelands. Find happy pasture-raised pork from Linga Longa farm or crisp Batlow apples from Orchard Pineview. Taste your way around NSW.
Boost your budget
Eating locally and skipping major supermarkets can have a reputation for being expensive, but if your budget may actually benefit from a seasonal approach. Globalised food production has introduced us to expensive season-less eating, as it’s easy to get any fruit or vegetable item year-round. Shopping at a farmers market is an easy way to see what’s in season and find bargains in seasonal eating.
Meet a farmer at the market and ask them about what’s in season, they’ll be happy to let you know which is the best value piece of produce and how you can work it into your favourite recipes. Read our Spring seasonal produce guide.
Support local legends
With bushfires, floods and Covid-19, it’s no secret that 2020 has been a challenging time for NSW farmers and producers. Carriageworks Farmers Market has seen incredible resilience from our stallholders. Despite many losing farmlands, harvests and business this year, spirits remain high and care for the community perseveres.
We’ve seen fantastic grassroots campaigns since the bushfires such as Buy from the Bush and Empty Esky, but you don’t have to visit bushfire-affected areas or buy items online to contribute to these great causes. Your weekly grocery budget can make all the difference when spent with local growers, as you help farmers get back on their feet and support their families.
Look after the planet
The 2016 Food Miles in Australia Report states that 29 items in a standard supermarket shopping basket have travelled 70,000km – that’s the distance of two laps around the globe and a huge environmental impact. Bypassing major importing activities and infrastructure, local businesses contribute less to sprawl, congestion and pollution.
When you buy direct from the farmer there’s also less need for handling. When you buy from your local farmer or grower you can fill a basket, grab a paper bag or throw everything straight in a tote. Producers can also pop goods straight into your reusable container or glass jar. Less plastic food packaging and plastic bags means less trash ending up in landfills and our oceans.
We’re stronger together
Community is the antidote to isolation. When you shop locally you not only reap the health benefits of local food, connecting with local business owners and other members of your community can have a great impact on your mental wellbeing. Visiting a weekend, open-air farmers market, is the perfect reprieve to a week of working from home. As the weather continues to get warmer and Covid restrictions ease, now’s the time to get out there and enjoy what your community has to offer.
Over the next four weeks we’re celebrating our Market community. Check out our #ImLocal content hub to get to know our locals and find Meal Planner ideas, shopping list suggestions and seasonal eating and sustainability tips from our amazing stallholders.