Yesterday I met up with Tim Denshire-Key at Wollongong University, and he interviewed me about our participation in the Sustainable Illawarra Super Challenge and our efforts to become more sustainable in an ordinary suburban house. He’ll use the audio in an upcoming podcast.
Tim is studying Industrial Design at RMIT in Melbourne, and is currently undertaking a sustainability study tour of Australia. It sounds like a hoot – he’s travelling around checking out projects relating to sustainable design and living, renewable energy and water. He’s blogging about the journey at [Up Your Jumper](http://upyourjumper.wordpress.com).
I was very interested to learn that Tim had recently done his own style of [100 mile diet](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100-Mile_Diet) – he tried to source all his food from within 100 miles of his home. Of course, being a metric Australian, he blogged about it at [Tim’s 160 km Diet](http://tims160kmdiet.wordpress.com/).
Out of interest, go to this [100 mile diet map page](http://100milediet.org/get-started/map) and enter in your town (e.g. “Kiama, NSW, Australia”). Have a look at how big the 100 mile circle is on the map. Do you think you could live solely off food grown within that area? It’s certainly not how our mainstream food system is set up!
I’m going to read [The 100 Mile Diet](http://100milediet.org/) next – they have it in Kiama library. By coincidence, the librarian there had recommended it to me on Tuesday this week when she saw I was renewing [Living the Good Life](http://www.lintrezza.com/book.html) by Linda Cockburn (also in Kiama library – at least once I return it!). Two references in two days must be some kind of sign!
I’ve been interested in finding more locally-produced food, but haven’t turned up a lot yet. The Jamberoo Valley seems to have some of the most fertile soils in Australia, with a fantastic climate and great rainfall. The area has never been drought-declared. With the proximity to Wollongong and Sydney markets, you’d think it’d be a hotspot of agricultural activity, but all we seem to grow in this area is dairy cattle. We don’t even process the milk into cheese, yoghurt, etc locally for a bit of value-add. Surely there’s an opportunity there for some enterprising local?
I’m really looking forward to the upcoming [Producers Brunch](http://green-change.com/2009/04/20/producers-brunch-kiama/) at the Harbourside Brighton Restaurant in Kiama, being put on by Slow Food Saddleback. It’s going to showcase local produce, with the producers there to talk about how the food is grown or made, when it’s in season, how best to prepare it, etc. I’m really hoping they prove me grossly wrong about how little is being produced locally!
On the 100 mile diet side of things, just start with stuff which you should be able to get locally. For instance honey and eggs. Basically aim for the low hanging fruit.
In another blog entry you were talking about eating kangaroo meat, but what about eating locally raised veal from the Kiama dairy industry. One of the things about eating local at this stage is that it requires a fair bit of leg work to find out what is out there. I would recommend adding a new tab to your web site title Local Food and forget 160 km, try 50 km or so.
Where I live 160 km includes all the way south past Kyogle (where Daley’s Nursery is located), then west to Dalby (what ever that is), north past Gympie to include Rainbow beach. It is a HUGE area. This includes peanuts from Kingaroy (which I purchase from a local health food store in peanut butter form). It also includes a number of areas with fantastic volcanic soil, e.g. Maleny, Mount Mee, Tweed, to name a few.
This past weekend I visited an avocado and persimmon farm in Nambour. Strangely enough this was the first time I had tasted persimmons. If you have not had the chance to do so, I HIGHLY recommend it. We had the non-astringent variety Jiro. You can eat this hard or soft, its like two fruits in one. They combine wonderfully with any thing dairy (particularly ice cream).
Anyway happy information gathering on the local food front.
PS The best way to eat local is not to shop at Wollies or Coles. IGA often sources local food more than the two big chains. More over if Wollies or Coles where to source something locally, they would still ship it back to a central distribution centre and then back to where came from. Talk about food miles/clicks doubling!
@Jason: Thanks for the thoughtful and thought-provoking reply!
Our eggs are now sourced about 10 metres from our kitchen, so that’s nice and local :-). Same goes for beans, zucchini, basil, rosemary, and a few other things. I am planning to add a Local Food tab – I’ll start something off soon, but I’m hoping I’ll get to add a lot more to it after the local food event and the Brighton.
I found a couple of people growing grass-fed beef locally, so that’s good. I don’t know what happens to all the Jamberoo/Gerringong calves. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are sent off to feedlots for fattening and then processed in abbatoirs a long way away, before returning to local butchers. All of the local abbatoirs I know of have closed down. If anybody reading this can give me more information, I’d really appreciate it!
I agree that 100 miles seems like a massive area. When I first heard about the 100 mile diet, I thought it was too easy as they’d made the area so huge. It’s a sign of our messed-up dependence on cheap oil that even that is regarded as ‘local’ when it comes to food miles.
I’ve had persimmons before, and they’re on my wish list of fruit trees. I love them!
You’re right about the Woollies/Coles thing too. Unfortunately, we only have Woollies in Kiama and no other grocery option. We do get our meat from the butcher, though, as it’s much nicer and doesn’t have all the excessive plastic and foam packaging. There’s an IGA in Gerringong, so maybe that’s worth exploring. Thanks for lighting that lightbulb :-).
A friend of mine lives at Austinmer near Bulli and says she can source a lot of local produce. She did a cheese making course at Robertson and now makes her own cheese. Lots of work but satisfying.
@Alan: I’d like to do a cheesemaking course, but never seem to find the time. I doubt I’d actually end up making very much cheese, either, if I’m being realistic about it. Maybe once I’m retired :-).
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