We recently had the pleasure of providing produce for a 150 person wedding, it was quite a surreal feeling looking at the harvest and imagining it being a part of two people coming together to support each other in life through the better and the worse. It was also a moment of quiet pride knowing that a local couple would be getting married in the local area and their meals would be featuring local produce. Being immersed in the local community through our produce got me thinking on the local food industry in Brisbane, primarily its accessibility and quality.
What is Local Food?
Local food is considered a peoples movement, it is the connection between local producers and local consumers within a geographic location. But it is more than that, it is the relationship between the producer, distributor, retailer and consumer of a local area working together to increase food security and ensure the economic, ecological and social sustainability of a community. One of the more prominent definitions is food grown within 160km of its point of purchase or consumption, I don’t think many Australians would be able to say they eat 100% Australian grown let alone locally grown. The aim of the Local Food movement is to develop more self-reliant and resilient communities, improve local economy and improve the health, environment and community of an area.
Why Local Food?
For me local food is wrapped within remediating consumer choice, rebuilding community connection and an attachment to my local environment and the species that live within. As humans I believe we have deep conscious connections with the environments that provide the neccesities for life, such as clean water and fresh food, whether we openly acknowledge them or not. There are indicative stresses that arise within populations as these necessities are misused, diminish or commercialised. These stresses have been repeated consistently throughout history and there have been some phenomenal consequences, from the sacrificing of first born sons to war. The basis for these stresses on our necessities follows quite closely with the growth of localized populations in conjunction with the available resources and technologies. Which is why I believe our cities have provided an illusionary safety net for the past 50 years, at the time our cities where being developed all the necessary resources where provided for allowing the basic human to move on from the menial tasks of ensuring fresh food and clean water to chasing the economic dream and increasing social standing. We are now coming into a period of time where we understand that cities are straining to provide the basic necessities for life and are creating significant social and environmental deficits within the region. I mean we literally live in a period of time where the air quality can no longer be taken for granted! This is where I believe Local Food can begin to remediate these city deficits and create viable avenues for livable cities.
I find that when I am being surrounded by local food I have an intrinsic relationship with the environment that it grew within and the producers who grew it, I have a deeper level of appreciation for the produce and a deeper level of care for the practices that it took to grow it. This can be easily explained for instance, if my produce is coming from overseas I am caring about the cost per unit and by that I mean I want the best produce for the lowest cost, I will not think about the onsite practices, the working conditions, the age of the onsite labour, the pay rates or the quality of life of the workers. Whereas if my produce has come from another grower in Brisbane, I am thinking about the onsite practices and if they are beneficial/detrimental to the community and environment, I am thinking about the season the grower just had, the hardships and trials that must have happened along the way, if they have been able to enjoy quality of life this year and that I am proud to have quality production on my doorstep. When something is occurring on my doorstep I want to understand if it is the best practices for my local community and if it will provide for the future generations who will take on the future roles within the community. I believe it is this intrinsic participation in the system that maintains a diverse range of quality produce in the local area being grown to the best current practices. So we can see that by incorporating and maintaining a local food system almost unwittingly we are ensuring economic, ecological and social sustainability for our community.
How to find Local Food in Brisbane
Finding local food can be a bit more difficult than first thought, even though we have a large farming community within Greater Brisbane and South-East Queensland it is not easily accessed and often only certain items can be obtained. A sure way of finding out where the food has been sourced from is to start a conversation with the seller and see what items have been sourced locally. I believe as more local businesses appreciate the value of ethical consumerism the rise in Local Food and Local Production we will see a rise in the availability, showcasing and marketing of locally sourced goods. There are certainly some great places to check out which provide large varieties of Local Food:
- Ipswich Good Food Group
- Food Connect Brisbane
- Turnstyle Bulk Buyers Food Cooperative
- West End Bulk Buyers
- The Source Bulk Foods West End
- Friendly Grocers Brisbane
- Local Farmers Markets
- Schultes Meat Tavern Plainland
- Meat at Billys
If you are a purveyor of Local Brisbane Food and I have left you off the list or you buy Local Food in Brisbane, please let me know and I will add them to the list!