By Joy Grinham, member of WATCH (Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Change)
Headlines in July, “Crops burn in Drought: corn soars on drought fears” have implications for the world food system as US crop losses are massive. More than half is shipped worldwide and is a major supplier to China. As drought has depleted grain harvest in northern hemisphere, the economic pain will be felt worldwide as budgets are strained through disaster-aid payments, and crop insurance premiums.
So, what does that mean for my budget? GROW, LOCAL, MEAT-FREE
Firstly, in my back yard, now is the time to dig up that patch (or use tubs) and start planting. Carrots are obligatory for that “24 carat” budget, silverbeet/spinach, and lettuce, self seeded from last year. As herbs are best fresh, and can be expensive, Coriander and Basil are two that will be added to existing Parsley, Chives, Mint & Sage.
Secondly, try to avoid the ‘cardboard’ food found in supermarket aisles. Albury-Wodonga is well serviced by local farmers through markets, and bulk food retailers. Oats from Walla, Walnuts from Tallangatta Valley, Apples from Stanley and such a variety of grains, milled into flour for breadmaking will raise the nutritional value and lower the budget. Buying Olive Oil from the producer ensures that you have a quality product that has been not been adulterated.
Thirdly, try having “meat free meals”. It could be the start of a gastronomic adventure and leave dollars in your bank. Here’s two of my favourites: Italian Vegetable Slice made with a base of risotto, a layer of sautéed tomato, eggplant, zucchini, onion and mushrooms, and topped with a creamy ricotta cheesy layer. Another suggestion: Oat Walnut Burger. Mix oats, sautéed onion in butter, chopped walnuts, 2 beaten eggs, milk, seasoning (Soy sauce). Drop from spoon to form patties and brown in hot oil. Cover with gravy (mushroom soup thinned with water or tomato sauce) and simmer for 30 mins or bake in oven for 30 mins. Alongside, baked vegetables tray may include potato, pumpkin, beetroot, onion, capsicum, etc.
An awareness of the carbon input to the food cycle may help. If you imagine the process and distance that has produced food items, aim for a Low Carbon Index. Healthy wallet and healthy family.