Food waste

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Week 2 Eco-Friendly Food Challenge

Posted on Apr 30th, 201212 comments

The week 2

market - buy locallyThe Week 2 Challenge is all about sourcing local fruit and vegetables that are in season. Participants in our previous challenge found that going to farmers' markets and speaking to farmers was the most exciting part of this challenge. Not only does this expand your knowledge of the foods produced locally, it also provides you with some understanding of what your home garden could produce (and when).

Farmers' markets are good for farmers too. At a recent workshop, a local farmer spoke of how talking directly to his customers makes him feel that this product is valued. He told of the negative experience of farmers who sold to distributors who were typically critical of the items produced in order to get a better price and how this impacted on their self esteem.

Your comments

During Week 2 you might want to comment on:

  • Your experience of the Week 1 activity
  • What do you think is local? (Some people have used 100 miles. We chose 400 kilometers in order to still enjoy a wide range of foods all year round)
  • Can you find out how far all of the farmers travel to your farmers' market? This is often on the farmers' market website.
  • Is local and seasonal always the cheapest? If not, why not?
  • What are the advantages of buying organic?
  • What about Life Cycle Analysis? What is it and how does this apply to fruit and vegetables?


Author: Barbara (Queensland Health)


Cathie said...

I can't believe I'd never heard of Food Connect before! This is a great idea. I'm going to try it out this week.

May 1st, 2012 at 07:52:06 AM

Barbara said...

Food Connect is just one Community Supported Agriculture organisation (CSA). This is a great way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from farmers. To learn more go to . There are also interesting videos from the recent National Sustainable Food Summit about the need to develop local food distribution systems. Go to to view the panel session called 'New system: New Values and Principles'. This features Robert Pekin who founded Food Connect at his most entertaining. Jeremy Rifkin's session on 'Designing for a distributed world' is also really worth a watch. Tell us what you think.

May 1st, 2012 at 07:54:22 AM

Gabrielle O'Kane said...

Here in Canberra we have a fantastic farmers' market on a Saturday morning on the north side and one on the south side on Sunday. There are lots of stall holders, many of them local, but there are some that come from the north coast and even from Renmark, about 1000km away, so not all is local. However, there is a wonderful range of food, the atmosphere is great and it is really nice to get to know the vendors that you favour. We also have a shop that has an outlet in North Lyneham and one in Curtin, so again, one north and one south Canberra (a bit like north or south to the big coathanger in Sydney), which is owned by a local farmer, who lives not far from me. They try to source as much local food as possible and they give you the distances that the produce comes on the box of fruit or vegetables. It is often organic food, but not always. There is very little packaging, so you can bring your own big bags and just fill it all up without coming home with plastic.
This brings me to our first week of the challenge. I did a clean out of my fridge on the week-end. Not pretty really. I had had people over a couple of weeks ago and bought three different dips. Well, we did not use them all, so there I was on the weekend throwing out all the leftovers as well as the plastic containers. To add insult to injury, I then went shopping in the morning and just needed some potatoes, mushrooms and onions. I was dropping off something at the jewellers and thought, oh, I will just duck into Aldi and get these three items. I am not a regular Aldi shopper, but to my horror, the only way that I could purchase these items was in their plastic containers. I was sucked in. I could have found another greengrocer somewhere, but it was too easy for me to take the easy option.
Can others repeat a similar story?

May 1st, 2012 at 03:12:43 PM

Barbara said...

I certainly have similiar stories Gabrielle. It was raining in Brisbane on Saturday and I ended up in Coles trying (fairly unsuccessfully) to avoid the plastic.
This week I'm trying to reduce my food-related waste by using the NSW Governement's Menu Planner Shopping List . It is on the Love Food Hate Waste website ( I like this resource because planning meals means I don't buy too much food AND I can focus on planning meals that include locally grown vegetables and fruit. We have loaded some recipes that are based on locally produced fruit and vegetables in SE Queensland on this website ( for those who are interested. We will be adding more as the months go by.

May 2nd, 2012 at 10:02:38 AM

Bo said...

I am currently working in Canberra, and have occasionally visited the EPIC farmer's market (northside, as mentioned above). I also noticed that they sometimes have producers there who have come from far afield (examples I have seen are macadamias and avocados from the NSW north coast). I haven't yet quizzed/enquired with market organisers about it, but perhaps they dont have the 'local' (definition of 400km, etc.) in their policy? Its great to be able to buy this yummy produce (since it doesn't grow anywhere near canberra, and if you were only buying locally, you wouldn't be able to eat it!), but I thought it kinda defeats the purpose of 'locally grown' farmer's markets... I haven't been to the southside one, but just checked their website and see their 'Regional Map' of where their stall-holders come from - - and notice the scale they use - although producers within those 150km and 250km radius circles are 'as the crow flies', rather than by road, which would be a lot further... anyway, just a thought ;) I wonder how it is financially viable for producers to travel a very long distance just to sell a few kilos of nuts or avos... ?
Also, I recently went to a seminar at CSIRO about agricultural sustainability. A csiro researcher who was in the audience, Sarah Ryan, made a really interesting point about food miles. She said some of her recent work had found that the average Canberran's trip to the supermarket to buy a kilo of tomatoes is more significant (in terms of food miles / carbon emissions) than the truck transporting those tomatoes from Queensland, where most tomatoes are grown. For more info, and a really interesting read, see (see especially pg 27-28 for a description about the energy use in the 10km round-trip to the shops (apparently an average trip for a Canberran to go grocery shopping) - so I guess the moral of the story is we should ride bikes to do the grocery shopping wherever possible! (or if we drive, do big bulk shopping trips, so we only have to go very infrequently).
Thanks for the dialogue - great stuff!
p.s. if anyone knows of similar 'food wheels' (like for SEQ) but for other parts of the country, please forward them on :)

May 3rd, 2012 at 07:46:12 AM

Barbara said...

Thanks Bo for that information and for the link about food miles. It looks like a good read.
Has anybody done their second landfill bin measurement? How is it going?

May 3rd, 2012 at 08:12:21 AM

Jemma O'Hanlon APD said...

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to share a pic of the amazing fresh produce I picked up at the St Kilda Veg Out Farmer's Market on the weekend.

The thing I love about Farmer's markets the most is they encourage you to buy seasonally and try new things! On Saturday there were so many items that I bought that I probably wouldn't usually buy, and now I get to research how to prepare and cook them and incorporate them into recipes, which will be fun! You don't see black radishes every day, and I'd never heard of sorrel, so it's certainly been a great learning experience for me and one I can share with my facebook followers (and promote veggies as foods that can look and taste delicious!).

On the downside, we seemed to go through our cash at the market very quickly and because you can only pay with cash, you don't realise how much you're spending until your wallet is empty! :S So I think next time I'll only take a certain amount of cash that I wish to spend and this way I can control my spending better.

The St Kilda Veg Out markets are plastic bag free too, and the quality of the produce is just wonderful. It was raining and freezing cold on Saturday (yes, Winter has well and truly arrived in Melbourne!) yet it was so nice to see so many people there doing their shopping.


May 7th, 2012 at 12:52:21 PM

Will said...

An extra benefit of going to farmers' markets for me is that I get some great advice about my own garden. I have been losing all my passionfruit this year to bats and possums. On Saturday I was chatting to the custard apple and honey farmer and he told me that the local Eucalypts haven't flowered well this year. Because of this, the animals that rely on this food source have turned their attention to our gardens. Now I know that it isn't going to happen every year, I'm happier to share my resources with the local wildlife.

May 7th, 2012 at 01:16:33 PM

Jude Maher said...

In Brissie I frequent the west end markets (non-organic) or Northey street (organic) depending on the week. West end does have some of the producers that sell their own home grown produce but most of the stalls have purchased their goods from the Rocklea markets (I think) and are on selling this produce. I know some people think this defeats the purpose of the farmers market and to some extent I guess it does but when I was interviewing some mothers out in Stanthorpe (Brisbane’s fruit & veg bowl) a while ago one, of the ladies told me they sell their farm produce at the Rocklea markets. So in fact the produce from Rocklea may still be pretty local but not as fresh as if it were picked the day before – but this info is much more difficult to find out.

The organic market attracts many more farmers to sell directly to the consumer - I'm not sure if this is because they can sell their goods for a higher price and therefore it is a more profitable use of time or what the reason is - perhaps the customers are more interested in the quality of the produce and who produced it rather than the price tag?

Anyway, I guess my dilemma is do you buy from a market stall that is on selling or do you stick to buying from those who are selling their own produce? (and if at west end reduce the variety of food significantly).
The other thing I consider is that those selling produce at the markets are not big business so I would like to support them too – nothing really to do with the environment though :) Plus I love the vibe of the market!

May 9th, 2012 at 08:16:19 AM

Carolina said...

I only been to two farmer's markets in Brisbane (west end and new farm). I always ask questions about the produce. Where do the produce come from? I love to chat with the farmers about diferent ways to cook with the local fruit and veggies. In relation to food miles, luckily I live in New Farm and I just walk to the New Farm markets, but I am guilty of driving to West End Markets. I am definitely motivated to go to different farmer's markets around Brisbane. I just need to organise myself better on the weekends.
In relation to my second landfill bin measurement. I have definitely reduced my contribution to landfill. From two bags on week 1 to one. My recycle box gets full pretty quickly now. My partner and I have been trying to reduce our weekly grocery shopping. We try to use all the food we have at home before going to the shops and we have came out with very Interesting recipes.
Thanks everyone for all the tips and info. I am definitely learning lots in this area :)

May 10th, 2012 at 01:00:14 PM

Sallyanne said...

Usually buying local, fresh and in season fruit and vegetables is not a problem for those of us living in the Northern Rivers NSW. We have regular farmers markets and also an organic produce delivery service based in Byron Bay.

May 10th, 2012 at 08:45:51 PM

jujitsu said...

hey katie and casey,thanks for the info about local organic seeds sueirppls. i've spent way more than my allotted computer time on this planting and harvest day looking at wildgarden and osborne seeds' amazing offerings to say nothing of your web and blog sites. bth say so much positive about you and your endeavors. you've accomplished so much this season and now moving on to what looks like a beautiful piece of land! i can only imagine how eager you are to see this growing season end so you can get going readying your new place for next season!see you next week. kim

Jul 11th, 2012 at 09:06:56 AM

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