Kate: Eat local campaigns where people are encouraged to eat locally sourced food have become a worldwide phenomenon amongst people concerned about reducing the environmental impact of food production. This week the Sydney based Live Local Website was launched and includes a much twittered about ‘live local challenge‘ where people have signed up to attempt to only eat locally sourced food for a week. Many eat local campaigns have been inspired by the 100-mile diet which was a book (published in 2005) documenting American’s Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon’s one year experiment where they tried to only eat food sourced from a 100 mile radius of their hometown. Locally raised and sourced food has been called ‘the new organic’. Even the Oxford Press made ‘locavore‘ the word of the year in 2007. Research has suggested that it is better for local economies, better for the environment and better for your health to eat food sourced from your local region. Eating food sourced from a farmer’s market for example returns profits directly to producers (compared to a supermarket where growers may typically receive 20%), generally means less energy consumption and usually means fresher, more flavorsome product. The downside of a local diet can be a lack of variety and often key staples (I’m including chocolate, wine and coffee) at certain times of the year, the cost and the time it takes to track down and purchase items.
When I visited Adelaide last week for Bridge8’s 5th Year Birthday Party I was very impressed (and incredibly jealous!) of the ease with which people in Adelaide can meet the live local challenge. In fact I suspect the concept may well be lost on some Adelaidians because they take easy access to reasonably priced fabulous local produce for granted! South Australia’s premier tourist attraction is Adelaide’s Central Market, located in the heart of the city and easily accessed via public transport. I was mightily impressed by the variety of fruit, vegetables, small goods, and café food which was easily distinguished (due to clear labelling) as sourced from agricultural regions surrounding Adelaide. There was even a good selection of local seafood. In Brisbane you frequently find fish shops without anything sourced from Moreton Bay. The other thing I found exciting was the fact that the prices of great quality produce seemed reasonable, there were lots of organic options and the markets seemed to be frequented by a real cross section of the community. In Brisbane we’ve had to re-establish farmer’s markets in recent years (our central market was moved out of the city centre in the 1960s and is predominantly wholesale) but they’re generally expensive (there are some cheaper ones but I’d have to drive to outer suburbs), don’t have huge variety and I’ve often suspected that some of the ‘farmers’ are people who’ve picked up boxes (of not necessarily local produce) at the wholesale market that morning. A recent phenomenon in Brisbane is the popularity of fruit and vegetable box schemes including FoodConnect which is attempting to reconnect consumers with local producers. This is a great initiative but I’d much prefer to saunter around a central market and chose my own selection of produce. With the variety of produce in Adelaide’s markets and the great local wines and chocolates I can imagine a pretty good ‘live local’ life in Adelaide.