How we eat. It matters.

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We live in a world that is undoubtedly obsessed with food. It’s a world of privilege. I’ve spent a large portion of my adult life living in developing nations and I can tell with with no shadow of a doubt that these conversations aren’t being had there. In those countries people are thankful if they have food on the table for their family after a hard day of manual labour. They aren’t arguing and whining over which super food is the best for them or ordering freeze dried blueberries from the other side of the world and demanding they are sent express post.

But if you are lucky enough (as we are) to be one of those people who live in a state of absolute privilege where we actually get to spend some of our time and energy deciding what sort of food we feed our families. We get to choose different eating styles, we get to be selective about what we put in our own bodies and what we give to our children. We get that unbelievable privilege of choice. A privilege that many people here in this country, and in other countries all around the world, are not afforded. If you have ever stepped foot in a food bank, or worked with underprivileged people in your communities you will quickly see that the privilege that we take for granted – is not for everyone.

Of course WHAT we eat is important. WHY we eat it is important to. But HOW we go about doing it… it counts. How do we take the privilege we have and do the least damage to our communities, to our countries, to our planet? How do we go about eating food that is good for us, reducing environmental impact and not behaving like a total over privileged asshole in the meantime.

  1. Eat mostly plants. And if you can, Grow Your Own. Eating primarily vegetables is one of the best ways to reduce environmental impact, to improve your health and to improve the health of your family. It’s a no brainer. Despite what the big businesses may like to tell us about growing our own vegetables (cheers Bridges and Woolies) it’s one of the most powerful things we can do as a stand against what is becoming a very capitalist food system. Growing your own vegetables doesn’t just save you money, but it helps to create a glut which you can then share or swap with your community – building stronger ties locally, sharing the skills and making true grass roots change where it matters most.
  2. Eat Seasonally. Eat produce that is grown as locally as possible and you will always be eating with the seasons. The beautiful thing about summer fruit is that summer fruit is only available in summer. If we were to eat peaches all year ’round maybe they would lose that special something. We are so spoiled when it comes to food. Eating seasonally not only makes sense for the planet it also brings a bit of excitement back to into food (my three year old is still excitedly anticipating ‘grape’ season here).
  3. Don’t waste.  Do whatever you need to do to stop wasting food. Whether it be meal planning or composting or getting chooks or not buying so much ‘extra’ every time you go to the store. Share your excess and whatever you do – don’t just throw it in the bin.
  4. Compost. Always compost you scraps. It’s good for your garden. It’s good for the planet. And it’s really good for your hip pocket.
  5. Shop Local. Farmers markets, small local businesses, community supported agriculture and co-ops are great options for eating local. Not only will you be supporting your community economy, growing your community networks you will be eating fresher ingredients without the food miles. Together we can start breaking down some of the barriers in our neighbourhoods – making local, healthy food accessible for everyone.

There is one final thing that I would encourage each and every one of us to do (and trust me I have to check myself on it all the time) – however you choose to eat, whatever food trend or diet you choose to prescribe to, whether your vegan or gluten free or sugar free or vegetarian or whatever – remember that for most of us, it is a choice that many people in the world do not have the privilege of making. Stop judging other people for making different choices. How can we ever be strong together if we judge each other on things that are so personal. How can we ever grow together if we judge other people for choices they may not even be making themselves.

We have the power to change the ‘how’ when it comes to food. We have the power to transform our communities and to raise the children in our neighbourhood to be given the best chance going forward. Together, without judgement.

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  • November 11, 2015 - 8:35 am

    Emma Galloway - Amen. *fist pump*ReplyCancel

  • November 11, 2015 - 8:50 am

    Rochelle O'Brien - joining Emma with an Amen! fist pump 🙂ReplyCancel

  • November 11, 2015 - 8:58 am

    Dale - Yes. Our children are growing up ignorant of where food comes from, of the fact that they do indeed grow seasonally and increasingly how we have the luxury of choice.

    I know as a child I would marvel as the apricot blossoms turn from flowers to hard green little baubles and then eventually ripe, juicy, sweet, fruit which we would grab off the tree as we went to and from school. My mother would spend a day or two preserving them or making jam in what I always thought was an effort to stop us children from gorging ourselves. As an adult I realise that she was giving us (and the many she shared them with) the opportunity to enjoy them when all the leaves had fallen from the tree and the fruit was long gone. It also meant we got to enjoy most of the crop before the fruit fly moved in to feast (though I am sure I’ve eaten my share of those too!)

    I probably would have remained ignorant of the idea of choice if I had not married a man from a developing country. While living with family there were many days and even weeks where our diet consisted of barely more than bread and butter and sweet tea for all three meals and if we were lucky some tinned fish. I was surprised that the children never complained that they did not like what was put in front of them or that they had the same thing last meal. When I came back to Australia I could not help but laugh when I heard someone comment that the couldn’t have chicken for dinner today as that is what they’d had yesterday.

    I often think about the point you make in your closing statements about judgement. It has become so bad that I have friends and family that hide their food choices so as to avoid being judged. I can’t decide if it is sad or completely ridiculous. For the most part I don’t understand judgement in general though. How can anyone be so arrogant as to assume that what is good for them is what is good for everyone? Why is it so confronting when others make different choices to us? Especially if those choices have little or no impact on us at all. Not just when it comes to food either. Imagine how our community would be transformed without it.

    I guess what you said resonated with me Sash! Ha ha!ReplyCancel

  • November 11, 2015 - 11:29 am

    Malinda @mybrownpaperpackages - I whole heartedly agree!ReplyCancel

  • November 11, 2015 - 2:18 pm

    magie - Lots of good points, I decided not to eat anything that had to be killed for my food about 12 years ago….we are so lucky in this country to have so much to eat that doesnt have tobe slaughtered.

    Aldi have food dehydrators for $39.95 starting today, it is a good way to keep food for later without the energy use of freezer space.ReplyCancel

  • November 11, 2015 - 6:25 pm

    Helen - It’s so refreshing to read common sense views. The #cleaneating army is starting to wear me down. Keep, keeping it real!ReplyCancel

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