This is a most exciting time here at the farm as next week sees the commencement of our region’s first weekly Farmers Market in Port Macquarie, which is something we’ve been an advocate for for sometime now. Whilst at first the thought of a mid-week market might seem unworkable, the success in other regional centres, notably the SAGE markets at Moruya and the Kiama Farmers Markets, give us a very strong base to launch this market from.
The response from the community to date has been really strong, and we’re looking forward to meeting you all on March 2nd, and then every Tuesday from 3pm in the Glasshouse Forecourt in Clarence Street. We’ve increased our production to allow for the expected sales which has meant extra work for our team here at the farm, and we’re certain that this will continue. We are so pleased to be able to offer more employment to local people as an outcome of the community supporting farmers and artisan producers through the weekly market.
Having a new market occur now is most timely, as the increasing realisation across many sections of Western communities about the falling quality of their food and the impact it has on their health is snowballing. A number of events have contributed to this, and the real food movement is continuing to receive mainstream media exposure. Each day in the last week influential outlets have covered aspects of this, which is a most encouraging trend.
A little over a week ago details surfaced about an outbreak of Hepatitis A linked to packets of frozen imported berries here in Australia. The initial reaction was to call for a tightening of our countries labelling laws, which, despite being dismissed offhandedly by our politicians, would be a step in the right direction. Towards the end of the week, this piece by Julian Cribb was published in the Sydney Morning Herald and is most worthy. It puts many of the pieces of this complex food puzzle together with some relevant facts and figures. The article details the shortcomings of imported foods and highlights the ever increasing concentration of power with a decreasing number of food processors. In short, the current situation is nobodies fault but ours, with the saving actions being “for all of us to value our food a little more, demand it be produced by less toxic and more natural systems and be willing to reward local farmers much better for growing it sustainably, with care, skill and wisdom.” Here here.
The next piece to turn up was this one in the US Fortune publication , and it is quite telling. Titled ‘Campbells Soup CEO says distrust of Big Food a growing problem’, the article details the concern and bottomline impact the real food movement is having in the boardrooms. In addition to Campbells’ change in fortunes, it also details recent problems faced by other multi nationals Kellogs and Kraft.
Then the New York Times featured an opinion piece titled ‘The Government’s Bad Diet Advice’ which highlights the recent about face on low fat diets followed by lifting this week of the longstanding caps on dietary cholesterol. That’s right full fat and cholesterol are back in. Who’d thunk? The closing paragraghs are quite telling -“Since the very first nutritional guidelines to restrict saturated fat and cholesterol were released by the American Heart Association in 1961, Americans have been the subjects of a vast, uncontrolled diet experiment with disastrous consequences. We have to start looking more skeptically at epidemiological studies and rethinking nutrition policy from the ground up. Until then, we would be wise to return to what worked better for previous generations: a diet that included fewer grains, less sugar and more animal foods like meat, full-fat dairy and eggs.” Indeed.
Today this lengthy piece by Joanna Blythman detailing the machinations of the processed food industry was published in the Guardian. “Inside the food industry: the surprising truth about what you eat” is an edited extract from Blythman’s soon to be published book ‘Swallow This: Serving Up The Food Industry’s Darkest Secrets’. Highlighting many of the additives and processes that are available to the food industry, this piece will have you heading back to your own vegetable patch quick smart.
So what are we to do? Who and what can you trust? Before we left the city and commenced this journey, we too were silent consumers, oblivious to what was contained in what we ate, safe in the (misplaced) knowledge that the institutions we trusted had our best interests at heart. Sure we thought we understood ‘good diet’ (whatever that means), and limited our fast food or take away consumption, but it is so prevalent in the urban environment – out here the pizza would be cold before we’d get it home to the farm, and we doubt ‘delivered’ is a workable option.
Our ongoing research has us coming back to the same points, many of them articulated by Mike Pollan and other leaders in the Real Food movement. ‘Know your farmer, know your food.’ And then ‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ Given that the increase in degenerative health diseases matches the introduction and increased use of petrol-chemicals and fertilisers in industrial agriculture post World War 2, one could assume that the diet and lifestyle that existed prior to this could be worth investigating. Lots of fresh vegetables, a good selection of seasonal fruit, and a variety of clean, pasture raised meats. You can expect to see all of this at any decent Farmers Market – we know we’ll have it at ours.
This is the eighth post about our journey to Near River, how our ethical pasture raised traditional field grown small holding enterprise has come to look like it does, and what we’ve learnt along the way.
Here are the previous posts, and yes, I’m an 80s music tragic.