The Sustainable Diet

Now just as a precursor to this post that I love to shower, am all for hair removal and am not a champion for free love, but I am about to get all hippie/environmental  for a moment. 

Each year Australians waste 5 billion dollars’ worth of food due to food spoilage- that doesn’t even take into account restaurants and food retailers! So in a nut shell, hopefully a recycled one, we are spending money on food we don’t eat and probably eating too much to boot. Both of these are not good for the environment as food production is a very energy intensive activity  and eating too much, well that’s an energy  issue all on its own ! From farming, to harvest, to transport , retailing, preparation and then storage in the home, there is a lot of  environment harming stuff going on. Enter food miles! This is the term which is used to describe how far our food has come from farm to plate. The ideal limit to miles is said to be 100 miles (220 km or there abouts), while I haven’t looked into where this number has come from it seems ok, unless you are in the middle of whoop whoop, in which case we need to exercise good judgement. 

But what about organic? Is it better to fly in organic food which has been sustainably farmed, or to eat the food produced locally? Again, judgement in this case needs to be exercised, and at the end of the day it looks like food miles trump organic. But better yet buy locally grown organic- crikey, what a combination! But everyone seems to say that organic isn’t any better than the other stuff- that’s a whole other kettle of fish! Well, in terms of responsible and sustainable farming practice- organic seems to comes up trumps every time.

 You see the ultimate limiting factor for how long us peoples can survive is the soil- the top soil to be precise. For anything to grow it needs to be fertile and the current intensive farming practise going on which have made food into a commodity driven by the bottom line and not a necessity for good health, sharing and celebration, are pushing our soil to its limits. Some scientists estimate we only have 50 years of viable soil left before we will have to look elsewhere- or not have any food to eat. The crops we are mainly talking about here, which are intensely farmed are wheat, barley, corn and soy, amongst others. But how do we fix the problem…well there is many ways to skin a cat, but cows grazing and helping to regenerate the land is one biggie- who knew cows would save the day? 

Another way- which we can all do, is eat in a sustainable manner. Buy locally where possible, support local producers, buy and eat only what we need, and even try and grow a bit of food. The Choku Bai Jo dude (a local Canberra organic farmer) said that if we all planted 10 square metres, we would produce 100kg or fresh produce a year. But am sure if you are not a green thumbed human, a herb garden may be a step in the right direction...

The thing is not everyone can forgo the time needed to tend to an awe inspiring veg patch, but even thinking about food this way not only helps us reconnect to where our food is coming from, but also starts the conversation about how we need to be eating into the future. Not only does out environment and wallet win, but by default, our waist lines win too! Eating a little bit less and eating better quality food automatically improves your diet, without having to think about it too much!

So here ends my tree hugging, blundstone boot wearing hippie-fied rant. Excuse me while I go and comb out my dreadlocks.

Harriet WalkerComment