We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children
(Native American proverb).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Food for everyone...

...That's the sign that sits at the start of Myrtle Street, Sydney, Australia. In my last post I mentioned being involved in the CarriageWorks Kitchen Garden Project (which is about to start its second workshop series commencing February 6... follow the link to find out more!). Food has been a passion for my wife and I as long as we have been together, nearly 14 years now, and we are both passionate about eating well, using whole foods and preparing as much as we can from scratch, which is what initially sparked my curiosity in the Garden Project in Sydney. I had also been reading and was increasingly concerned about GM food, the increasing reliance on ethanol and bio diesel as potential saviours from the impending oil crisis, and the growing appetite of rapidly developing Asian countries for the western diet, which cannot sustainably feed the west let alone the billions of people who now live in Asia. Food, it seems, is going to be the next frontier to be challenged by the limits of nature.

When we attended the launch of the first kitchen garden series we had our eyes opened to the extent of the waste and the potential problems in the supply of food. Speakers addressed issues such as the fact that over $4billion worth of food is thrown out in Australia annually (check out OzHarvest to see what one organisation is doing in this respect, founded by this year's Australian Local Hero of the Year); our food prices are among the highest in the developed world despite being a net exporter of food, and only getting worse as oil prices continue to climb; we have lost about 75% of our agricultural species diversity; organic and whole foods are still priced at a premium, while the highly processed and nutritionally questionable products the food industry market to us are cheaper and only seem to make us sicker collectively.

Grow Your Own! That's the the suggestion made by Michael Pollan in his book "In Defence of Food". Take it one step further and you have community gardens: it is communities working together to feed each other and forming closer bonds with neighbours who previously had little contact; it is eating better, more nutritious food at a lower cost; it is reducing your ecological footprint because your dinner has less food miles.

Myrtle Street opened my eyes to the potential this concept could achieve, even to city dwellers where space was scarce and time limited. As you can see in the images, a variety of produce can be grown almost anywhere: this is just a few hundred metres from the University of Sydney and Broadway. Not only is it better for you, it is better for the community who are actively engaged together in supporting and working on the project, and it is better for the planet both in terms of minimising food waste through the communal compost bins and using less resources (especially fossil fuels) to produce, transport, process and market the product.

My challenge to you: Eat fresh, eat local, grow your own!

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