The Provenance of Food
I lived in the city when we were first married. It didn’t last, I don’t mean the marriage, the city living. We moved onto some land when Lizard Man was 1 and started breeding our sheep. We had a plentiful orchard of mostly stone fruit and I also started a vegie garden in a big way. I poured over heritage seed catalogues and worked like mad planting and mulching while the baby was sleeping. The vegie patches ended in a big way too with the very premature birth of Cricket Mad but that’s another story.
6 years on, I’ve just completed the first season of my newly established vegie garden and it really feeds into what I’m passionate about. The Provenance of Food.
As you can imagine we spend quite a bit of time at Farmers’ markets. My favourite part of the Saturday morning (other than counting the cash box…) is buying from other stall holders and having a chat about how things are on their farm. Vic makes my snags from his beautiful Mirrool Creek Texel lambs, we talk about sheep and lambs and pasture. I wouldn’t buy my apples from anyone except Pete the Apple Man, all the way from Batlow, who always tosses in more than couple of freebies for the boys. I joke with Robyn and Norm from Highland Gourmet Potatoes that our boys are growing strong on their spuds. Norm grins and pushes some Kenibec’s towards me saying they make the best chips. They DO make the best chips (drizzled with olive oil, salt and baked) AND are grown in our neighbourhood.
My friends Fiona and Adam of Buena Vista Farm left the big smoke in search of something more and found themselves back at Fiona’s family farm at Gerringong, where gloriously the paddock meets the sea. After so much of their planning and waiting, I was excited to see that they had finally brought their beautiful pork products to Kiama Produce Markets, from their pasture raised pigs this month. They sold out. We had their delicious, salty, crispy bacon on toast for Sunday brekkie with some glorious cultured butter made by our friend Pepe Saya.
I could go on about this wonderful food community we are involved in. But you don’t have to go to the big Sydney markets to get a bit of what I’m talking about. I make a bet if you go to your small local suburban market, among the second hand book sellers, you will find people who are doing agriculture on a small scale and doing it well. Feeding your family food produced by people you know makes it so much more than just nourishment. There is an honesty, authenticity, integrity, connectedness and good will. Food for the body and the soul.
The very opposite of this, of course, is Aldi. A soulless commercialised place where farmers and producers have been deliberately cut out of the picture. All the food has private labels and comes from Minchinbury apparently. Here the provenance of your food is completely unknowable and the farmer is just another dispensable link supply chain.
Mostly, Lizard Man and Cricket Mad know the farmer who has produced what’s on their plate. I really hope this is a lifelong lesson in positive eating habits for them. While most people are upset about the rise and domination of supermarkets, we have the opportunity to vote with our wallets. And its easy to do. Support your local farmers. Try even one meal a week where all the food is grown within 100kms. Its just is so pleasurable and worthwhile. It’s certainly not new, communities have always been run this way, it’s only recently with globalisation and corporatisation that we have strayed from the path, but we can revert…