10 things we can do to better support Aussie farmers
When you’re eating dinner tonight, take a moment to think of the farmers who produced the food. I wouldn’t say that I have green fingers but I have to say that the job they are doing is not easy and if I have to replace them, I think I wouldn’t last very long.
Besides food security, there are many other reasons for buying Australian produce. Firstly, Australian producers are known for safe, disease-free, and high quality food products and our produce are highly demanded overseas. Buying from your local farmer is also good for you, in a sense that when you buy local produce, straight from the farmer, you know your produce is fresh and at peak nutrition. In addition, buying from Aussie farmers is also an excellent way of boosting your local economy.
Knowing all these benefits, where do we start? Here we will cover 10 things we can do to better support our hardworking farmers at home:
Choose restaurants that source foods locally and support workers.
Eating locally doesn’t have to be limited within the boundaries of your own kitchen, many chefs source at least some, if not all of their ingredients locally. Ask your chef or your waiter about these questions and I’m sure they will be happy to let you know.
2. Shop at farmers markets
Farmers markets are a great source of local and fresh produce and they often offer a diversity of fruit and vegetables, not to mention delicious recipes for you to try. This is an excellent way of supporting your local farmer.
For the best selection, be sure to arrive early! But if you can’t, fret not as well. Many vendors offer discounts on what’s left at the end of the day, and “ugly” produce that is harder to sell.
3. Eat at farm-to-table restaurants and cafes
Planning for a birthday dinner or a special date night? Choose farm-to-table restaurants. True, you may be paying a little more than usual, but your purchase will help local farmers to continue to provide food for their community. More importantly, the food you’ll be consuming won’t be teeming with hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs.
4. Embrace biodiversity
It will be a good idea to find out which foods are your region’s specialties and try those rarer varieties. Here is a useful link on helping you know which fruits / vegetables are in season in the different states in Australia throughout the year: Seasonal Food Guide.
5. Look for local brands in stores
Buying locally produced items from grocery stores in lieu of the farmers market can ensure that the local products stay on the shelves. One helpful tip is to look for the “Made in Australia” or “Proudly Australian” labels when you’re shopping for your next batch of groceries.
6. Plan your menus around what’s being harvested
In colder months, swap the heat-loving basil in pesto for a winter green like kale or beet greens. Switch the peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes in your summertime pasta primavera for broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts in fall.
If you live in Tasmania or Victoria, or somewhere with cold winters, you may not have many local produce available for a good amount of time throughout the year. However, you can still enjoy the produce you love even when they’re not in season by pickling, canning, drying, jellying, or even freezing them.
Many small scale farms can use a little extra help with a variety of tasks around the property. Volunteering at a local farm brings many benefits, one of which is that it will enable you to learn more about your local agriculturalist and the work they do everyday, and in turn building lasting relationships with them while also giving back to your local food system.
Be sure to check out international organisations such as the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms or alternatively, have a chat with your farmer at the local market to find an outfit in need of assistance.
9. Make a charitable donation
One of the ways that we can support our farmers is to make a donation, especially when there are unfortunate events such as droughts. Vinnies is a great platform for us to make a donation, which allows donors to choose how much they want to donate, for what cause, and also to the specific state that they want to donate to.
10. Try the less popular crops that are necessary for healthy soil and a successful farm
Go for the humble! Rotating in the more modest beans and mustard seed creates the fertile soil required for high-demand crops. This would help farmers tremendously because when they are unable to sell these less popular foods, they then dedicate these crops to alternative purposes such as animal feeds. This process usually leads to the farmers losing profits.
Talk to your local farmer and learn which supporting crops their land needs, then try to incorporate those produce into your diet.
How do you support your local farmers? Let us know in the comments below!