Tag Archives: 160km diet

Local Food Growing

From ABC News Online

Farmers’ markets drawing the crowds

By Amanda Collins

Good generic shot of fruit and veges from a Stanthorpe farmers market

Farmers’ markets have been trading in Australia for almost 10 years, but now more than ever, consumers are headed to market for fresh local produce.

Australian Farmers’ Markets Association chairperson Jane Adams says there are about 120 markets operating regularly throughout the country, with more expected to be trading by the end of the year.

Situated on the southern downs in Queensland, Stanthorpe is the latest community to launch a farmers market.

Reliant on agriculture, the region produces a diverse range of fruit and vegetables and almost all of Queensland’s apple and pear crop. Read more….

Despite this, Stanthorpe resident Gwen Jones says local produce is difficult to find and a regular farmers’ market is long overdue.

“We pass the farms but we just can’t seem to buy the local produce in the supermarkets. So it is really good to be able to come here and get fresh local produce,” she said.

Ms Adams, who also works with communities to establish markets said: “The growth of farmers’ markets has really come from two ends, one is the consumer and the other is the producer.”

Stanthorpe organic fruit and vegetable grower, Ray Palmer agrees farmers’ markets are becoming more popular for a couple of reasons.

“Producers can get retail prices and consumers can ask questions,” he said.

“There are also people who are wanting to reduce the amount of miles the food travels before it gets to their plate.”

Day 30-The Finale!

24/8, Sunday- Well I’ve made it, 30 days of pretty much living off local food and drink. There’s been a few slips, but it’s to be expected. One slip that completely slipped my mind was ginger. The whole month it has been a regular ingredient in my cooking. I’d sourced it from the grocers on Victoria st, who sourced their vegies from a farm near Geelong. In my mind, ginger got lumped into the vegies category. It wasn’t until Natascha Mirosch replied to my comment on her blog,  asking where I’d managed to get ginger from within the reaches of wintry Melbourne, that I twigged it was most likely not local. For me this highlights how vigilant you need to be to try and stick to local food.

For breakfast this morning I used the ‘foreign’ ginger, along in the breakfast from yesterday, but added eggs into the mix. Still a hit, even better I’d put forward. Today however was about transition. I’d finished my fast of all things foreign, and no longer had to act as though I was a shopkeeper from Royston Vassey. I’ve found over the last few days, I’ve been genuinely excited about finishing this experiment, and being able to eat foods without restriction. I think the whole experience has made me more aware of how much I value food, and more so variety of food. I have to say, while I think the principles of the locavore movement are very worthy, I’d find it hard to commit to it indefinitely. I enjoy food too much for that. However, as we discussed in class, this wasn’t meant to be an excerise in creating hardcore locavores. It was more, that by going through the experience, for what really isn’t a long period in the scheme of things, it makes you, and the people around you more aware of the world of food, and all the baggage that goes along with it. How much of it will stick afterwards depends on the individual. I’m going to post a more indepth reflection on the whole shabang later in the week, so if your interested stay tuned…

But to wrap up the day I thought a little celebration was in order. We’re having a local pot luck meal in class this friday, so instead I decided to a have a celebratory transitional meal. First stop, Victoria Markets. Well with the end of exclusive local eating, meant that I was to re-enter the food matrix of the Glenferrie estate. For the last month, I’ve been something of an outcast, with my ‘local’ meals and quarantined food. My other housemates had their fun offering me forbidden foods, and I responded by segregating my bits and pieces. Now however I’d re-entered the fold, and it was time to restock the larders. The vegetables, were mostly local expect for some oranges. Things such as cheap, quality bread and chocolate, that till now had been strictly off limits, was picked up. My brief foray into the world of organics is over for the foreseeable future. A big slab of beef was purchased, origin unkown, other then Australian, along with a flagon of olive oil, sourced from Italy. Another of the contraband, coffee was bought. This was blended and packed in Preston, here in Melbourne, but your guess is as good as mine to where the actual beans originated from.

So the meal was prepared, and well the table would’ve been set if we had one. A mixture of local and not so, there was roast beef with a range of roast vegies. All the vegies were in season, and mostly locally sourced. The oil however was from Italy. The garlic used to season the vegies and meat, was local. The salt, not so I think. The mixed herbs where from several places unknown. The beer was Australian, though brewed across the southern strait, down in Launceston.

After dinner was where it really strayed from the local. Coffee, and also chocolate (from France), but with a local Baram orange, while not ‘local’ its more local then France. It was a pretty decent meal though, and I’m glad to have gone through the the locavore experience, but to be done with it. I wonder how long it will take me to fully slip back into my old eating habits, pre the local explosion. We shall see…

Day 29

23/8, Saturday- Well its nearly over, one day to go of this experiment. Tomorrow I’m planning to have some friends around for a roast, should be a good way to wrap all this guff. For breakie I decided to bring out one of the concoctions that has been spawned from this whole extravaganza. That is stirfried broccoli with mandarines and yoghurt. It sounds a bit suss, but tastes auesome. As it did this morning!

I had a funny enounter today though, that highlighted how much this 160km business had meshed itself into me. I was down Victoria st, picking up some vegies. While standing in line waiting to pay for them, I noticed this rough’n’ready looking guy standing near me with a green coles bag over his shoulder. He sidled up to me, and in a low voice said,

“Hey mate, do you want some really cheap lamb chops?”

I looked at him confused, to which he proceeded to open his green bag and show me about 20 or so packs of lamb chops. By the looks of the packaging, they’d somehow managed to leave the supermarket nearby, and arrive in his bag. He must have payed a ‘very good price’ for them to be able to sell them cheap. The reasoning behind me saying no to this bargain offer though, was what was interesting. Instead of rejecting them on say, that they were most likely dodgy and on their way to being off, I immediately said no, because I guessed they wouldn’t have come from within 160km. This showed how intertangled the 160km mindset had become, to the point where any decision about food, even as left field as buying dodgy chops off a dude in the street, was first reasoned against, ‘is it from within 160km?’ The whole encounter with the mystery meat man lasted about 10 seconds before he disappeared back into the crowd. I thought later it would’ve been funny to see what his reaction would’ve been if I’d asked him if he knew where the lambs had been raised….

For dinner tonight, I decided to make a good one. It was Saturday night, so I had a bit of time, and one of my last sole 160km meals. Up till now I’ve been cooking seperately because it was easier to work out with my other housemates. There were only two of us about tonight, so I offered to do dinner 160km style. On the menu tonight was roast chicken, with a variety of roast vegies and a bit of broccoli. Simple, tasty and hearty. Good winter guff.

Day 28

22/8, Friday- Today I was up early and organised for once. I made a big breakfast and then scooted into the city. This morning before uni, I had an appointment to donate blood. I do it monthly usually, but lately I’ve had to cancel appointments for one reason or another. Today though I made it, and it went pretty smoothly. However there was one thing that was different. In the interview, prior to donating, the nurse pricks your finger and tests a droplet of blood. I can’t remember what is it to test the count of, but normally I have a higher then average reading. Today however it had dropped to a low normal reading. Could it be the diet? Maybe….

Today there wasn’t much to record new food wise. We decided in class, as this wraps up sunday, and the assessment is due next friday, we’re all going to bring in a dish that is created from ingredients from within 160km. I’m interested to see what people come up with. I’ve got to work out what I’ll make, have to have a think.

For dinner tonight I made some roast potatoes and sweet potatoes, and fried up my last mushroom with a bit of bacon. It turned out well, and I cooked up just the right amount.

Day 27- Nearly there…

21/8, Thursday- Today was a pretty miserable day. And I chose to ride to uni. Rainy, cold, windy all day, wasn’t the best of Melbourne weather, more some its more unpleasant. All this, plus not a whole lot of sleep (too much colouring in to do) meant I was a bit titchy today. Shivering my way up to Vic Markets to forage for some more supplies to last me out till Saturday, I was pretty keen to say ‘fuck it’ and grab a borek and a coffee. Just a coffee would’ve been good, something warm.

But I didn’t, got a trusty bag full of mandarines instead and some big mushrooms. The mushrooms cheered me up a bit, they were pretty big and relatively cheap, so it gave me something to look foward to, for dinner. This whole experience has been worthwhile to do, and I’ve got a fair bit out of it, but I’ve found it a bit of drain to have to do it 24 hours a day. It’s more the constant analysis you have to do about anything you look to eat or drink. It takes the spontaneity out of eating. Everything needs to be planned. I’ve found too that, when I do have the opportunity to eat, I tend to eat a bit too much, after having only fruit for lunch. That happened today, had the ol’ mandarines for lunch and so after riding into and out of the city, I was fairly hungry. For dinner I cooked up  my two big mushrooms in the oven.

On top of them a put slivers of bacon. To fill it all in a bit, I made up some mashed potato, and blanched a bit of broccoli, for the greens. I cooked up a few sausages from the small goods joint as well. It was a pretty hefty meal, and I knew I’d eaten it once I’d finished that was for sure. I don’t think I would’ve gone to well running the 200m race I was watching after that lot though….

Day 26

20/8, Wednesday- Today started early for me. But it started well. For the first time in a while I had toast for breakfast. Not only that I had bacon and eggs on toast. I was pretty happy with it.

Today however was about alot more then breakfast. Today I was to meet with Chris, who manages the Mushroom Farm Project at CERES. This is to be the focus of my social innovation case study, the second part of this studies subject, following on from this diet. So after breakfast I peddled out there, and arrived right on time, 9.30am. After calling Chris, he directed me to the RRR carpark, where the shipping containers, housing the mushrooms, were located. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Chris welcomed me, and then showed me around while he did the morning mushroom monitoring.

The enterprise has been running for 2 years now, and is part of CERES vision to address the exact issues that the 160km diet is highlighting. CERES, Chris stated, sees itself and wants to be at the forfront of urban agriculture. He explained that CERES is a place where methods can be tested and then showcased, to help society into a transition to a low energy society. The mushroom project grew from wanting to create urban intensive argiculture, which mushrooms lend themselves to well. The project recieved government funding to set up, and also provided an avenue for new migrants to Australia to complete a horticultural certificate, and for some, gain further employment at the project. I met also Fadime and Hanife, two women who had just recently begun work picking and sorting the mushrooms. More info on the project can be found here.

It was interesting to see the actual story and people behind what is sold at market and ends up on my plate. I asked about helping out for the day next week, but Chris politely said that they were too busy to have to lead someone around for the day.

I could see that just from the short time I was there. The whole time I spoke to him, he was dipping in and out of containers, fixing bits and pieces.

It reminded me of a time when I picked chestnuts for a few weeks. The amount of work that Vladimir, who was the farmer I was working for, along with the other pickers I worked with, did, seemed to outweigh the actual money we got in return. In his case he got dodged on the markets and barely got back what it cost him to produce. I think people have forgotten or simply never experienced how much effort goes into growing, picking, packaging and then transporting the food, that arrives in our supermarkets.

The unspoken heroes of this diet, have been Geelong Mandarines. The yellow umbrella store at Vic Markets sells them for $2/kg, and while they’re a bit ugly on the outside, they’re sweet and tasty on the inside. They’ve been my lunch/snack/breakfast many times during this experience. Today they once again stepped up, making a nice lunch after checking out the Art Deco exhibition.

Dinner tonight, before and after trivia (which was massive, with 4 teams competing at the height of it!) was some of the left over soup with toast. Nice and filling.

Day 25- Day of Bread!

19/8, Tuesday- Today was a very exciting day for me. Today I found a local bread source! In class people had mentioned a place in Fitzroy that apparently sold 160km friendly bread, but as yet, I haven’t had a chance/made the effort to get out there and chase up the lead. However while testing out the Google blog function that Soumitri spoke of in class, I came across a few of the others blogs. It was on Lucy’s that I noticed she was talking about having bread and dips, and then looking back I found that she had found some at one of the organic food stalls at the Vic Markets.

So today I went on the hunt. After striding up and down the organic section a few times, I spotted a stall with bread. I explained my situation and saw that he’d be been queried about this recently, so I’d struck the right one. He said the wheat was grown relatively close to Ballart. Being on the organic bandwagon, it wasn’t the cheapest at $5.40 a loaf, but could be worse. A week to go, and I had finally sourced some bread.

After watching a few clips on slow food on Soumitri’s Faint Voice You Tube channel, I began to think about what I had said early about the price of organic foods and the produce I’d been purchasing as part of this 160km diet. It all comes down how much you value the quality, taste and health benefits of your food really. I think some of the organic gear is a bit of joke, but in theory its a good idea, and better for us all. Its just the practicalities of re-learning old farming and production methods, pre organic insecticides and cold storage, along with developing a new generation of more harmonious farming and transport systems. Though slow food doesn’t have to mean organic. Its more about putting care, time and quality back into everyday food. Which is what has happened to a degree by going on the 160km diet.

However on the menu tonight was broccoli and potato soup, with bread! It was good, especially the bread!

Day 24

18/8, Monday- Today began early, with a race to work. Before leaving I managed to have some tinned peaches and yoghurt. Work however was a bit less dramatic and I had a bit of time to wonder why I rushed.

I’ve begun reading a new book though, ‘The World Without Us’ by Alan Weisman. Cheery title I know, but its not so gloomy, as much as a book about the extiction of the human race can be. It describes what most likely would happen if humans suddenly vanished leaving behind all the stuff that we’ve created. I’ve only read the first few chapters, but its an interesting idea to explore. One thing that stuck with me, and makes this whole shpeal slightly relevant to the blog, was that while most human built additions to the landscape, generally get absorbed into nature, with little or no trace, there is one thing that has survived in many cases. Food producing trees and plants. The means of food production live on after we’re long gone, well in some cases anyhow…

Another thing raised in the book, was when it talked about how modern houses are constructed compared to ones in history past. The rise of particle board and all its off shoots, was rationalised with this, ‘the massive trees that yielded the great wooden posts and beams that still support medieval European, Japanese and early American walls are now too precious and  rare, and we’re left to make do with gluing together smaller boards and scraps’. It put into context how much we’ve taken from the world, and what we have left. I think it is human nature though that we only start to think about how we use a certain resource, when we realise there is a finite amount and can see the end. Think about when you have a full jar of nuts, you’ll eat them by the handful, not taking much notice. But once you get towards the end, you’ll start eating only a few at time, and then say individually. Till point where the amount you ate in one handful at the beginning, will last you a good half hour. Its only on these last few that you realise the full flavour and texture, and then they’re all gone.

As you can see I had a little bit of time to reflect on things today… On the way home I popped into the smallgoods place down the road, and grabbed some sausages for dinner. Once I was home I made up a quick bacon and spring onion omlette, before embarking on a number of things that seemed productive at the time, but I can’t place now what I actually got done. Anyhow round 7, got I dinner ready which consisted of diced sausages fried with some onion and the rest of the mushrooms, on mashed potato. Flicking on the tv, I came across an interesting story of a well regarded Australian businessman, who came to the realisation that a steady as she goes attitude wasn’t the way to address climate change, and decided to challenge the PM of the time, John Howard, over his stance on climate change. He went to the point of quitting his highly held job and investing his own money to campaign against the PM over climate change. I found it really interesting to see someone of his position in the business world, throw everything away pretty much to stand up for what he believed in. Pretty compelling stuff.

And in case you were wondering (I know you were) dinner was pretty good too. So there you go, another day down.

Day 23- One week left

17/8, Sunday- Well this time next week I’ll be at the last day of this experience. Today was a bit of slow day, as Sundays should be. I’m not religious, but having easy Sundays is something I’ll agree with them about. I wandered down to the local deli, and found out that they have bacon there that they make themselves. So bit of this, with a bit of eggs and some of those expensive but tasty mushies, made for a pretty auesome breakfast. So good that I forgot to take a photo of it. You’ll just have to trust me.

Today I had a crack at doing a bit of gardening. I’ve been building up a garden bed since we moved in, throwing all the vegie scraps in, but haven’t got around to actually planting anything. I went to dig it up a bit and get it ready to plant something. I found we already had a small crop going, there were about 5 spring onions that had grown to a reasonable size. So there we go, my first harvest. I’ve got to look into what would grow in winter, but we had some sprouting potatoes in the pantry, so as a bit of an experiment, I buried these. See what happens, might get a potato crop going. Then I can class them organic and start to make my millions…

For dinner I cooked up my last maryland, with some potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrot. I put it all on a tray and roasted it for a few hours. Came up really well and went down well too.

Day 22

16/8, Saturday- Today I ventured out to CERES. For those not in the know its an environmental centre up in Brunswick on the site of an old dairy farm. There is all sorts of projects up and running, all with the idea of furthering ideas of sustainability. The reason I was heading there today was that today there is an organic food market. I’d read that they grow alot of food on site and at another property just up the Merrie Creek, so I guessed there’d be fair bit of local stuff to get into. After an hour or so on the train/tram I arrived, and sussed out the markets. I had a chat to a few people there, and they were really helpful, pointing out what was locally grown in Melbourne, and there was also some produce from at a farm near Colac, which was within the range. There were a few new things that I hadn’t found anywhere else. There were apples, and also garlic. The prices looked a bit steep, so I only got a little bit of stuff, about half a green bag full roughly. When I went to pay for it all, I was fairly shocked when it came to $27! I thought it would be a little bit more expensive then normal vegies, but I didn’t think it would be this much. I can understand why the prices are higher. By using organic methods the yield is lower, the produce lasts for shorter time, and so it means the food is a more expensive and so those costs are passed on. This isn’t such a problem for someone who is working full time and earns decent money, but for students or low income earners, its not really an option for week in week out purchases. Though on another tack, it questions how much value we place on the quality of our food and knowledge of how it has come to be. On the way home I was thinking bout this, and the apple did taste pretty good, but I don’t think I’ll be getting much more from there on my budget.

Once I got home I was starving. I’d had a few mandarines for breakfast and then an apple on the train, but that was it. So I had a late lunch of roasted chicken, mushrooms and carrot, with mashed potato and sweet potato. The mash did taste a bit better, the sweet potato seemed sweeter, and also the carrot. The stand out was the mushrooms. They had some real flavour, and had been grown on site at CERES. I’ve decided to do my case study into the mushroom farm at CERES, so there’ll be one food mystery sorted. Stay tuned. However I went a bit overboard with the mashed mixture, so it turned out to be a massive mountain on the plate, and carried me through for dinner as well.