A Food & Travel Blog

Food security in Australia – an issue RIGHT NOW

06/06/2011 | By

 

Australian food has been in the news recently – but, largely, for all the wrong reasons.  First came the horrific story on the ABC’s Four Corners last week of the brutal,  barbaric and sometimes  sadistic treatment of exported Australian cattle at the hands of ill-trained, ill-equipped or just plain cruel slaughter-men in some overseas abattoirs.  (Warning – this program contains extremely confronting and distressing footage.)  That has been followed up today by bleak warnings from South Australia’s Horticultural Coalition and the Australian Food and Grocery Council that we could face some harsh food shortages here in Australia within 10 years if local producers are not protected by both state and national governments.

 

This is an extraordinary and shocking fact to be facing in Australia.  The combined effects of urban sprawl over arable land, supermarket price wars, water uncertainty, rising imports and rising costs are all contributing to a decline in local food production – right at a time when it should be increasing to keep pace with population growth.  Farmers are leaving the industry and less are entering, while at the same time foreign ownership of both large tracts of Australian farming land and food production companies is on the rise, with little or no government restrictions in place to limit that ownership.   In the five years from a 2004-05 to 2009-10 the food and grocery manufacturing industry dropped from $4.5 billion surplus to a $1.8 billion deficit  and currently almost half of our processed or packaged foods are imported.  According to media reports today, the number of dairy farms in South Australia has dropped by 200 in the last 10 years and meat producers have also decreased in number.

If all of this sounds a little alarming, then all I can say is – good!  If that is what it takes to get people motivated and concerned about food security then I’m all for it.  We can’t just sit back and cross our fingers on this one folks, there is far too much at stake for us to assume that governments will act in our best interests.  Big, foreign companies have big, fat cheque books that  make them look very attractive.  We need to keep our eye on the National Food Plan Working Group and make ourselves aware of both state and national plans for food security.  We all need to be Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig‘s new best friend, sticking to him like glue and helping him out with our opinions and input whenever possible.

The other way we can make a difference is to do the one thing that this blog has been largely about – BUY LOCAL.  Make each shopping trip an intellectual exercise as you scan fruit for stickers, shelves for origin labels and processed and packaged food labels for any and all information about their contents.  Support local farmers markets or subscribe to non-profit, community supported agriculture schemes like Food Connect Adelaide for your fruit and vegetables and eat more seasonally to make the most of the fresh produce available.   Buying locally produced food of any kind where possible supports the local producers and, by extension, all who do business with them, cuts down on food miles and  builds a healthy local economy.

Oh, and it is an essential step towards ensuring local food security.

 

 

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  1. Lorraine Not Quite Nigella
    06/06/2011

    I hate to think how we got ourselves into this situation. And you can’t blame the farmers for leaving or that there isn’t another generation. What motivation do they have?

  2. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    06/06/2011

    I just wonder how we got ourselves in this situation. And I don’t blame the farmers for leaving, the impact of these decisions is so hard on them!

  3. Rosemary Cadden
    07/06/2011

    Something has gone terribly wrong if we are saying there’s a food shortage on the one hand – and, at the same time, farmers are being forced to dig their crops back into the ground because they fail the cosmetic test form major supermarkets… what a waste of perfectly good food.

  4. Anna Johnston
    08/06/2011

    Yep! Buy Local! What’s that you say….., I said Buy Local!!!! Great post Amanda.

  5. cityhippyfarmgirl
    09/06/2011

    Great post Amanda. Some really big changes need to be seen in this country.

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