By Erin Mathews Erin is a former Border Eco-Living Program participant
Everyone has different motivations for going local with their food. To be honest, the driving force for me was number 5.
1. Shrink your eco footprint
2. Support the producers in your community
3. Save money and cut down on food waste
4. Appear conscientious and cool
5. Enjoy eating it!
Sure, I want to help the environment, be seen to be helping the environment and all that stuff. But as a dedicated foodie I am selfish, I enjoy eating and taste is the most powerful factor.
Fortunately, when I decided to become a locavore I lived in a food bowl. While working at ABC Goulburn Murray, I challenged myself to eat only from the station’s (reasonably wide) broadcast area. That went out the window with my morning cup of tea. Tea, along with chocolate, was not to be found locally and was not going to be taken off the menu. However, once I started looking, everything I wanted and a lot I came to want could be found in the region – by and large of a much better quality than I was used to.
Bread and wine could be found in the Alpine area, lamb, olives and oil from Rutherglen, butter and beef from a friend’s Kiewa Valley farm. I became addicted to the unwaxed Fuji apples from Stanley which gave me a new appreciation of that staple. Locally made salami and pastas were welcome additions. Weekend trips to Shepparton stocked my bowl full of pears, apricots, nectarines, cherries and the mandatory tinned tomatoes. And cheese – cow, goat and buffalo – was also thankfully plentiful. That would have been a deal breaker.
Rice gave me some concern and forced me into further research. What’s worse: A water intensive crop that drought-stricken southern NSW struggles to maintain? Or rice grown in wetter parts that’s flown thousands of kilometres to my bowl? I chose local. I also had a similar dilemma with a local, non-organic product and an organic but imported one. Conventional wisdom (ie Google) urged me to err on the organic side. But knowing the region and its standards, speaking to some of the producers, and saving on food miles, won out for me.
Being a locavore, to me, isn’t about limiting your menu, it’s about growing it. I discovered so many utterly divine additions to flavour my menu (until I moved too far away from them!). For me, it’s also about being realistic. I didn’t stick absolutely to the regimen of eating only local because it has to work in the real world. But I did get a new perspective on the way I eat, shop and live.