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  • Kathy

Why Do I Shop Locally and Where Do I Shop?

This week, I popped a little blurb on my socials that addressed the importance of small farmers.  Did you know- Small farms, along with family-run operations produce over 70 percent of the world’s food!

With just 12 plants and 5 animal species making up 75% of what the world eats, food systems are vulnerable to natural disasters and disease outbreak.  Small farmers help protect the world from this vulnerability. They increase our food security by growing heirloom and other non-commercial varieties, offering biodiversity into our food systems.

Sadly however, small farms struggle to find regular buyers because the global food system demands a steady stream of robust produce all year round, regardless of seasonality and how far it has to be shipped.  On top of this, small farms face the same obstacles as larger farms do – like climate changes, which can bring intense drought or on the other hand, intense rain periods.  

As consumers, we can support small farms by shopping local.  

When it still existed, the Frenchs Forest Sunday Markets were one of our family’s favourite weekend activities. Spending a happy half day, we were able to purchase our fruit and veggies (whilst chatting with the farming locals about their week), spoil ourselves silly with locally made bar-soap or artisan cakes, have an awesome breakfast at one of the many stalls and also buy our share of meat, fish and other pantry treats.  The experience was nothing like going to the supermarket – it was dynamic, interactive, exciting as we never knew what goods we might have discovered that week.  Ever-changing, the produce on offer was seasonal and very dependent on the farming conditions that particular week.

Sadly, the weekly markets have now closed as their venue is no longer available and have shifted to a location much further away from us.

However, I have managed to continue to support our local farmers by running my own fruit and vegetable co-op.  A food co-op is essentially a group food purchasing system.  Families who are part of my co-op act as a collective buying group – this allows the purchase of entire boxes (ie. a whole box of apples) instead of individual items (ie. 6 apples).  Our buying is cost effective and fresh, because it is sourced directly from the Sydney Farmer’s Markets the same morning as pick up.  My co-op is now comprised of 100 local families, and together, I know we are making our own small difference in the world by ensuring our local farmers are paid fairly, reducing our carbon footprint by utilising supermarkets less (think less storage costs, electricity costs, and transportation costs) and minimising waste by ensuring that we are package and plastic bag free.  

In my efforts to support my local businesses and producers, as well as reduce my environmental footprint, I have also implemented these changes in our buying:

– Henry’s Honey:  One of my friends is so kind to pick up honey from a local producer for me.  Henry is a local man who sells beehives and well as honey, beeswax and bees.  His products are so tasty and full of caramel aromas.  They are certainly not mimicked by anything that I have ever found in the shops.

– Bee Wrappy Beeswax Wraps:  Beeswax wraps are a reusable, washable and sustainable alternative to single-use plastic and aluminium wrap.  They are also pretty and colourful!  I love the wraps that I source from Australian producer, Bee Wrappy.  I have to add that with proper care, our wraps have lasted us a long, long time!

– The Source Bulk Food Stores:  These are the best places to source your pantry staples, including flours, nuts, grains, oils and snacks.  If you wanted, they also stock natural cleaning products and personal care products.  They have a zero-waste goal and aim to deliver ingredients to our homes the way they should be – not packaged in plastic.  You only take what you need, refill your own container or jar, and connect with the source of your food.  How lucky for me that my sister owns one of these, too!

I feel like this journey to support local and reduce our footprint- is continually being refined and improved.  The next thing that I would love to try for my family is a change in our toilet paper!

Who Gives A Crap is a cool toilet paper company whose paper is gracing bathrooms across Australia.  All of their products are made with environmentally friendly materials and generously, they also donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets and improve sanitation in the developing world.    

I would love to hear how you have managed to support your local producers and/or businesses.  It’s such a rewarding and personal experience for all!  Tell me about the goodies that you have discovered along the way and what other things you are curious to explore in the future!