We have all heard the well-worn mantras: Choose Organic, Eat Local, Know Your Farmer, Shop Local but there has never been a time where the deeper meaning and impact of these words were so relevant, topical and important….. now is the time for action.
As a self-confessed foodie, passionate organic grower and undiscovered chef, I have always sought out the best food in the region and the stories that go behind that food. Having discovered the magic of growing my own food as a young boy and seeing that interest grow as a backyard warrior digging up the yards of rental properties (to the shock of the owners), I have always known of the significant difference of eating food fresh from the garden and it is this knowledge etched into my DNA that shaped the ethos of what Synchronicity Farm and Raw Food Hub is delivering to this region.
When asking customers what eating local means to them, it quickly became clear that most people associate eating local with a reduction in travel and storage time between gate to plate however the real benefits extend far beyond that simple truth.
People are busy these days, possibly busier than ever before however people still want to eat healthy organic food. While the support of organics previously sat with a smaller section of ‘enlightened ones’ who have always supported local and organic, there is now another 50% of consumers that always wanted to eat local and organic.
It is this new and growing audience driving the significant growth of the revenue in the organics industry expected to increase at an annualised rate of 25.5% annually over the coming years. (and I think that the ‘Eat Local’ movement is growing at the same sort of pace.)
This much larger group are making conscious choices about the merits of seasonal, regional consumption. They want to support local farmers and attend grower’s markets. They are willing to pay for consistency, convenience and first-class quality.
One of the other most critical factors in the mind of today’s home-based MasterChef is freshness. For the average connoisseur, fresh food means food that lasts and so when receiving local salad mix harvested on the same day as delivery it’s not unusual for that salad to still be vibrant, edible and alive even 3 weeks after purchase which satisfies consumer desire to minimise waste and receive real value for money.
Consistency of supply has been a significant issue for the organics industry as awareness and demand has grown as consumers have moved to increasingly consider the health and environmental consequences of their food choices.
To meet this demand on a local level there are the marketing alliances and hubs forming to assist with boosting volume and managing relationships between consumer and farmer. Improved retail presentation and offering produce of the highest quality is also growing the sector. Initiatives by local council run farmers markets that encourage open trading, diversity and reward initiatives that fit with the local economic plans are also making a real difference.
The significant impacts that may be less visible when shopping and eating local include the economic boost to these enterprises that allows the owners to reinvest locally, expand their operations, create local jobs and use their creativity and passion to do more of the great work they do.
As a final thought, in translating ideas into action, my recommendation is to support businesses that have a social conscience; ask questions about the origin and production methods of the food your family eats; ask owners of businesses what their strategy is for supporting the local community through their enterprise and dig deeper to uncover the real merits of being a local, regional and environmentally aware consumer as together we can change the world, one seasonal, local and organic food box at a time.
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