Level up local food

sugo
Literally up

The way I shop is different now. During summer, I’ll pounce at the first sight of corn. In March, I embrace all the tomatoes. And when I spy red capsicums—I’m warning you—step aside!

I know what the chooks that laid my eggs eat. My sourdough was made by hand. My milk comes from the dairy an hour away.

Local, seasonal food has changed the way I cook too. Because it’s full of flavour and tastes alive, the mantra “less is more” rings true. I step out of the way and let the produce shine.

And when I eat, I feel blessed. My breakfast egg keeps me sated ’til two. Peaches are sweet, acidic and juicy. I rip the bread and scrape on butter—crusty, chewy, sour—perfect.

I source real food from farmers, not crap from corporations. I eat with the season’s cycle, not promotional campaigns. I support food grown with care, and refuse to be kept in the dark.

But I can always do better—can you? In your food life, what can you improve?

Can you ditch the supermarket and shop local?

If you already shop local, can you grow? If you grow, can you preserve? If you read food books, can you write? Can you be an agent of change?

Make a start, give it a go.

Take the Local Harvest Challenge from April 3–9.

Let’s keep our farmers growing. Ensure prime land is used for food. Cultivate community connections.

Level up local food!
Sharon Lee, FlavourCrusader

Like to add your local food story? Email info AT flavourcrusader DOT com to contribute!

Too many tomatoes
Once you preserve your homegrown tomatoes it’s hard to go back to the tinned stuff. There are a few ways of preserving the summer harvest, but sugo is easily our favourite. Sugo is a delicious thick tomato sauce that is excellent with pasta, made by roasting tomatoes with garlic, herbs, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

sugo
Sugo before

Here’s our steps to sugo success: Lovingly grow your own tomatoes, garlic and herbs, or source them locally. Collect your basil and any other abundant herbs like oregano and thyme—it’s great they’re in season at the same time.

Gather a few friends and start chopping tomatoes like crazy. If you’re serious about a winter supply, you’ll need between 50 to 100 kgs, depending on the harvest and how many people you’ll be sharing with. Roast everything on a tray for a couple hours then blend into a thick rich sauce. Bottle and store in a cool place.

sugo
Sugo after

A tip: Going through the process of growing your food then preserving for the cooler months provides such satisfaction that cannot be gained from buying cheap and imported food. And then there’s the flavour—once experienced you can never go back!
Cynthia Lim and Nick Bray, the food eXchange, Blue Tongue Berries

Grow, gather, give • love the one you’re with
My garden is now a fabulous two acres at Produce to the People Inc. HQ—The Farm at Burnie High School.

At the moment, we are growing and harvesting corn, beans, potatoes, beets, spring onions, kale, pumpkins, spaghetti squash, baby aubergine, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, apples, plums and nashi pears.

share
The Farm at Burnie High School

During the past month, we harvested around 650 kilos of produce.

We use permaculture principles. We mulch a lot, companion plant and have incorporated a hugel bed to address some of our drainage issues—The Farm is actually built on a swamp.

What do we do with all the produce?

We give it away! We have a food hub where anyone in the community can come and access the produce we grow. There are lots of conversations about how to cook with the produce as we average around 50 people a day through the gate. We also deliver boxes of produce to elders in our community who may have transport or mobility issues. We think it is really important that the most vulnerable in our community have access to nutritious food.

Food picked on the day, grown by us = winning!

It’s all about the community looking after community.

Fresh food access with trust and dignity.
Penelope Dodd, Produce to the People Inc.

Grow your own
What involves zero food miles, has tons of physical and mental health benefits, improves food security, provides maximum nutrition, hours of entertainment, tastes yummy and is ridiculously cheap? It’s an old school thing called growing your own food and this is how I eat local. Sounds too good to be true but it is.

nasturtium
Nasturtium

This photo provides a small but pretty snap shot of my backyard ecosystem. Nasturtiums are forever present in my garden, I let them go feral and have their way around other plants (happens to be strawberries here). They are a great example of a smarter-than-average plant that I regularly harvest.

Being a lazy gardener who practices permaculture, I try to grow food that provides multiple functions to improve the health of my garden and my own health. Firstly, nasturtium flowers and leaves are peppery and damn tasty with seedpods that can be treated and eaten like capers. The flowers are a beautiful addition to absolutely anything. Nasturtiums are high in Vitamin C, contain flavonoids and boast anti fungal properties. They also calm me down when I look at them. I went to the effort of only planting these herbs once in my garden (about a hundred years ago) and because they self-seed, I have never needed to plant them since. Most importantly, nasturtiums attract all kinds of beneficial insects, pollinators and repel the nasty ones.

I feel bad but sometimes I use them as sacrificial plants. All in the name of eating local from my backyard.
Jemma Waldon, Lost in Utensils

home garden

garden
This little organic home garden supplies about half the food for my partner and myself, and is a pleasure to tend.
Julian Cribb, Science communicator and author of The Coming Famine

Local food: Use it or lose it!
I grew up on the semi-rural fringe of Sydney. I have very clear memories of my mum buying directly from local farms. I remember the kitchen bench being covered with peaches in November. I remember the crunch of Gala apples straight from the tree and winter citrus fruits filling my lunchbox. But I also remember watching, as that farmland gradually became houses. Producers couldn’t be profitable in a system that didn’t value the food they produced. So they sold their land to developers. Gradually, that ability to easily choose the freshest, most in-season food dwindled. In some cases it disappeared.

Humans can’t live long without food. It represents our health and our culture. It is a basic need and a human right. Yet in our fast-paced, first-world lives there seems to be a complacency about it. There is an assumption from policy-makers that we will always be able to get it from somewhere. But if the land around the city where we grow food is concreted over exactly where will we get it? Over the mountains? Overseas? I can see the ‘economic rationality’ at work in this approach, but I just don’t think it works for something as fundamental to our lives as the food we eat. I don’t get to make decisions about policy. But I do get make decisions about how I spend my family’s grocery money. So I try to make decisions that keep local farmer’s profitable so that my children have the same memories of fresh, healthy seasonal food as I do.
Jennifer Richards, Beyond the Trolley

local food
This photo is my riff on ‘Coq au Vin’ made with a chubby chook, farm harvest tomatoes, kale, beans and Rondinella grapes plus liberal slurps of red wine all reared on the estate—Freeman Vineyards, Hilltops, NSW.
Jane Adams, Australian Farmers Markets Association

foraging
When your Mum has been to the park. #foraging #safood #Adelaide True local food.
Amanda Daniels, 2bEthicalFood

grow food not lawns
When you grow food in your front yard, you are starting a conversation. These chillies are from a person whom I gave some chillies and coriander to the week before. She is one of over 30 people I have met (and shared produce with) since I created a food garden in the front of our house last year. There are many others of all ages who have stopped and pointed with looks of joy and surprise that have responded with a happy wave when I wave from my home office window or the bedroom. These conversations and interactions don’t happen when you grow lawn and hedges.
Steve Willis, Urban GreenSpace

Like to add your local food story? Email info AT flavourcrusader DOT com to contribute!

Related, elsewhere
Local Harvest Challenge


2 Responses to Level up local food

  1. What a fantastic bunch of posts and people! So encouraging! It’s such a great challenge to take ALL of the time :)

    1. FlavourCrusader says:

      Wonderful, hey!? Yep, it’s easy to be complacent but that’s a recipe for mediocre! A little push now and then, a few discoveries, and the path (depending upon your circumstances) becomes easier.

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