Saturday, January 15, 2011

Flooding and Supermarkets

The floods are now finally easing, and life will gradually get back to normal for most people. My thoughts go to those in the Lockyear Valley though, our problems all pale into insignificance compared to them!!

I was talking to my brother recently and he said that there were two issues higlighted by the floods.
  1. Our reliance on road transport and transporting food across the country, and
  2. Our reliance on the supermarket.
He is so right on both counts and while we an't do a lot about the first part of the first one, we can certainly do a lot about the rest. Most regions in Ausralia (well, the coastal ones) have farms that can provide: dairy products, meat products, fruit, vegetables, wheat. Why aren't we directly accessing these or at least why aren't there more Farmers Markets. With the Bruce Highway cut in so many places, it shows how crazy the transport system is, as well as our marketing strategies. They truck Bananas from Cairns to Brisbane, so that they can then be sent half way back to Rockhampton to be sold at the supermarket.

We need to think about supporting our local farmers and working out how to buy direct. The consumer needs to start by asking for it and as I've said before, if there are customers, there will be suppliers. And, of course, the producers/suppliers need to stop worrying about how to do it and just start doing it. The term for this kind of buying is called Farmer Friendly purchasing. The consumer and the farmer just need to get to know each other. In Central Queensland alone, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Biloela and Emerald would be big enough centres to each support a Farmers Market. It would certainly be a bonus now as the supermarkets in those towns have shown some very serious food shortages.

It's a little ironic that when I think of the average city consumer, I think of the very same brother mentioned above, who use to go to the supermarket on his way home from work to buy the ingredients for that nights dinner. Anyone can change the way they source their food, they just have to WANT to. One of the impressions I got from the media during the flood crisis was that people were panic buying. I'm lucky, because I'm used to stocking up as I live in the bush, so I could cope for months - although it would get a bit boring! We got to the shops on Monday and bought some lovely stone fruit and some more vegies - these are things I can't grow. I didn't NEED food, but the variety is good. I'm as guilty as the next person for ignoring food miles, but really, we all just need to compromise a little and try and buy whatever we can locally and then treat ourselves to those luxuries from further away.

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