By Amber Croft, Regional Landcare Facilitator – North East Victoria
‘Tis the season to be jolly! In my family – and most likely yours – gathering around the table with family and friends to enjoy a Christmas feast is an important part of the celebrations.
This year as I plan my Christmas menu, I’m thinking about all the wonderful foods grown in our own little corner of the world. Perhaps we could even celebrate with an all-local, delicious and sustainable Christmas dinner…
Nutritious food, along with clean air and water, are fundamental human needs. Agricultural production could be considered our most important industry sector.
With the global population predicted to increase to 9 billion by 2050, experts indicate that food production will need to double in this time… and that farmers will be required to do this with less land, less water and the rising costs of fuel, fertiliser and energy.
In Australia, the growing concern about ‘food security’ and protection of productive land is reflected in numerous new government reports and studies. It is clear that increased investment in agricultural science, as well as changes in the way we all feed ourselves, will be needed to deal with the production and consumption of food in a changing world.
There are many ways in which human behaviour influences the sustainability of food production, including the land management practices of farmers, the processing and packaging of food, the distance that food travels to reach the consumer, waste management practices and policies relating to natural resources and economics.
We must also deal with the long-term climatic changes that are forecast. The best scientific estimates indicate that for every degree of global warming, we potentially stand to lose about 10% of world food output.
As consumers, our buying decisions affect demand for specific products and influence how food is produced and distributed.
Simply by buying local produce, you can make a difference by reducing your ‘food miles’ – the distance your food has travelled – and therefore your carbon emissions. Plus you’ll be supporting our local farmers!
So back to my Christmas menu… perhaps we’ll start with smoked trout from Harrietville and a selection of lovely cheeses from Boosey. For the main course, there’ll be a succulent slow-roasted leg of free-range Milawa pork, with a salad of roasted organic vegetables from Yackandandah and Buckland Valley hazelnuts, drizzled with a little Beechworth olive oil. And a simple but divine dessert of fresh Stanley berries with Kiewa Valley icecream. Mmmm!!
* Local producers are invited to submit their details for inclusion in the new North East Local Produce Guide: www.nelocalproduce.com.au