Friday, September 16, 2011

Where our food comes from

Where our food comes from and educating urban Australia. Two generations or approximately 50 years ago, the majority of Australians still had close ties with the bush. They either lived on a farm or had grandparents, close relatives or friends who lived on a farm. For many city kids back then, the school holidays meant a trip to the bush to catch up with their country cousins. They had the opportunity to experience milking the cows, feeding the chooks and collecting the eggs, picking the fruit and vegetables, seeing a sheep, steer, chook or pig being killed to provide the meat for the family. Sadly, today this is not the case.
It would appear there is a growing number of people in urban Australia who are anti-agriculture, in particular anti-animal agriculture. I suspect this may be due largely to the fact that many urbanites are disconnected from the bush and simply don’t understand how the food in their supermarkets got there.
The vast majority of Australian farmers were horrified along with the rest of Australia when the Four Corners program broke the news earlier this year on the way cattle were being slaughtered in a small number of Indonesian abattoirs. Clearly something needed to be done quickly to assist these abattoirs in achieving a best practice standard that the majority of Indonesian abattoirs already maintained.
The Australian government’s decision to abruptly suspend all live export of cattle to Indonesia not only affected Australian farmers and the multitude of businesses and their employees that are linked to primary production but the people of Indonesia who rely on Australia to provide 25% of their beef. Australia effectively cut off a food supply to another country. How would we have felt if roles had been reversed and it had been Indonesia supplying us with 25% of our beef?
On a brighter note, rural tourism in the form of Farmer’s Markets are experiencing rapid growth and popularity. Reaching more of the Australian population and encouraging face-to-face communication between the city and townsfolk and the farmers who produce the food.
Thanks to the hard work of a dedicated few, our district is holding it’s very first Koondrook Barham Farmer’s Market this Sunday at James Park near the bridge in Koondrook. On the same day is the Koondrook Spring & Car Boot Sale in Apex Park. Start at one market and head down the Koondrook River Statue Walk, through the historic Arbuthnot Sawmill to the other. Invite your city friends, make a weekend of it and bridge the city/country divide.

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