food miles: buying local produce etc - thoughts? Page 1 / 3

timetable, Jan 22, 11:46pm
hey just wondering what folk thought about the 'trend' - and yep i know that its been around a while now - about only shopping local for all your food needs and that's whats in the fridge, pantry etc... . who does it, does it work etc, etc...

jimminette, Jan 22, 11:56pm
Trouble is - if you live in the city local is the supermarket and goodness knows how many miles that has travelled. Go out into the country to buy and you've travelled miles. It's a tricky one. We are rural at the moment and I'm finding it lovely to be able to buy fresh as I go passed or out of the garden. Even the meat is local.

babychick6, Jan 23, 12:52am
If you don't want to pay for food miles you would have to grow all your vegetable, meat and fruit. Given climatic conditions you can only grow exotic fruit where you have enough heat like Northland. It's not hot enough in NZ to grow bananas or pineapples.

You have to buy some stuff that has food miles attached or narrow your diet considerably. Only a small amount of wheat is grown in a few areas for flour for your baking or bread. I could go on wwith more examples, like can you grow and butcher a sheep or a cow for your meat needs?

buzzy110, Jan 23, 2:14am
It is a hard call. Many developing nations, particularly within the Pacific area depend on us buying their produce to keep them solvent. We, also, depend on selling our primary produce to America, Europe and China or we would very rapidly become a very poor nation. Can we expect our goods to be bought overseas whilst refusing those of other countries? I'd say no.

Quite often, too, bananas, sugar, pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, watermelon, etc grown in the Pacific Island, even with transport to us has a smaller carbon footprint than say, the same product produced in Australia.

dezzie, Jan 23, 2:37am
apparently its been proven that lamb from NZ, even by the time it gets to the UK, is still more enviromentally friendly than their own, as their sheep are frequently housed and fed meal/pellets, so by the time all the plowing, planting, harvesting and delivery costs are added into the "eco sums" its better ecologically for it to come from here, thats why the UK folks have gone silly on "food miles" and how far it actually travels, as opposed to how ecologically friendly getting that animal from birth to slaughter it actually is.
And all our coffee is imported, and tea I think, and omg, chocolate! ! !

jag5, Jan 23, 2:39am
We grow most of our own vegies, fruit trees coming on, and produce all our own meat. It is quite a buzz when we look at our dinner plates, and know it is all ours, fresh, and no food miles at all. If you can do it, go for it. At least your vegies.

davidt4, Jan 23, 3:08am
I agree, it's a very hard call indeed. My household chooses three areas to focus on:

1. We grow as many veges as we can, and some fruit.
2. We buy NZ cheese, wine and olive oil
2. I make as much food as I can from scratch and do not buy prefabricated "food" such as packet soups, simmer sauces etc.

Although our primary reasons are our own health and our love of honest food, I believe that we are also limiting food miles, especially those attached to the non-food additives that are present in most convenience foods.

It may not be much but I think it helps., Jan 23, 3:14am

Its a bit like "global warming" and "carbon Tax"

lythande1, Jan 23, 3:44am
Crazy. Think about it. Where does tea and coffee come from for instance. And most spices?
Think about winter in Gore too, you may get away with it more up in the upper North Island where the growing season is a hell of a lot longer and you can actually grow a lot more variety but down here - your diet is going to get very very boring and limited.
Get over it, buy NZ grown where possible and enjoy the rest. I like my foreign spices and tea thanks very much.

davidt4, Jan 23, 4:30am
Another aspect of "food miles" is that most foodstuffs are transported by sea, not air. It's only air-freighted things that are of concern.

We are very lucky that in NZ we produce high quality free range grass-fed beef and lamb, plus increasing quantities of free range pork and poultry, so meat doesn't pose a problem.

uli, Jan 23, 5:09am
Well I grow heaps of bananas in Northland and have had the odd pineapple too. I have also grown wheat and rye in small quantities and could have easily grown my yearly supply if I wanted to - however I have come to the conclusion that nuts are better suited to a healthy diet than grains, and nut trees are much easier to grow (and more environmentally friendly) than annuals like grains.

You can grow all your meat in your backyard via chickens and rabbits - I have done that for over a decade (the fertilizer is invaluable for the garden). Currently I have meat, milk and eggs in the paddock.

For drinks you can grow tea and coffee in Northland too or any amount of herbs for teas like Lemon verbena.

When I lived in Europe the winters were certainly colder and longer than what you have in Gore. I still lived mostly out of the garden by bottling, freezing, fermenting and storing in the ground over winter. We had freshly grated salads all winter from raw carrots, beetroot, apples, celeriac and all the other roots that will easily store plus fresh sprouts. Certainly not limited or boring.

All that is needed is the will to grow your own stuff - then it is dead easy. Even on the average section you can be 80 to 100% self-sufficient if you adapt your eating habits slightly.

So yes you can avoid food miles altogether - you could live out of your backyard as most people did only 2 generations ago.

uli, Jan 23, 5:20am
Just one other thought - except for veges from the local growers market or orchard, there is no way you can BUY local produce really. If you don't grow it then it is most likely imported.

We have fresh garlic onions, broccoli, pears and other stuff from China on the shelves without even knowing it. Tomatoes come from Australia, grapes from the USA and snow peas from Zimbabwe. There are no bottled NZ apricots any more as it is too expensive to bottle in this country - they now come from China. There is no gherkin industry any more in NZ, ALL gherkins come from either Eastern Europe or India, where labour is cheaper. They get imported in brine in bulk containers, and appear on the shelves as "bottled in NZ". Over 50% of the pork eaten in NZ comes from overseas etc ...

So the whole food miles thing is a theoretical act if you don't grow most of your food yourselves.

bex32, Jan 23, 5:44am
Uli - I think it's awesome that you can grow all of those things!
I live in Wellington city, and I make a huge effort to buy fresh produce from local growers, and I have a vege garden too. Every sunday there is a huge farmers market in town where you can buy produce direct from the growers, and its fresh and much better priced than the supermarket. There are plenty of stalls that have local olive oils, cheese, breads, fish straight off the boat, meat etc. So even if you live in the city, you can still get fresh local food.
Also, Moore Wilsons Fresh is great, they have a good variety of produce and they tell you where everything has come from.

uli, Jan 23, 6:01am
bex32 - I was more trying to point out that local "produce" is quite easy to come by (still) - it is once you start shopping in a supermarket that you get into trouble, as there is not much local stuff now at all.

And lets face it: If you go to a supermarket and check the shopping trolleys - then how much "produce" do you see in the shopping trolleys - compared to "groceries" ...

So the huge majority of "food" bought would not be local, cause most people do not cook "from scratch" - and if they do then they do not use that many veges or fruit (cause it is expensive compared to carbs).

There are aisles and aisles with packets and tins and pre-fabricated stuff compared to the few meters of fruit, vege, meat, fish, eggs, dairy (which I would call "food"). Most of that packaged stuff comes from overseas and most people have more than half their trolleys full with those items.

davidt4, Jan 23, 6:08am
That is exactly the point I was making in #7 above. Thanks uli for expressing it more clearly., Jan 23, 6:44am
Tend not to judge trolleys I see... considering u wont find a single vegie in mine at the supermarket. . thats cuz I've just been to the local vegie mart and spent 50% of my grocery money there and they are in the boot! ... actually. . I have often wondered if the supermarket ladies think we dont eat vegies at all lol

bex32, Jan 23, 7:03am
I understand that uli, and I also make as much as I can from scratch, never buy packet mixes etc. Its just as easy to make things yourself, and it is much more satisfying. It is amazing how many "ingredients" can be crammed in to one little sachet.

I think that a lot of people just don't understand that it can be easy to cook fresh wholesome food, they find it easier to buy processed food from packets in the supermarket.

accroul, Jan 23, 8:43am
In respect to shoping for fruit & veg, I tend to think of 'local' as having been grown 'somewhere' in NZ as opposed to only buying foods that are grown with a certain radius of where I live. The problem is is that NZ is made up of a large number of micro-climates with each suited to growing something better than some other locale might. To then say that for example, I won't eat any foods that have had to travel over 150km from the grower to my property will also mean that I have just stopped myself from eating (when I want to )some of NZ's finest stone-fruits or maybe even apples, in fact it might mean that I get sweet stuff all in the way of fresh fruit & veg given the fact that I live 20mins drive from the epi-centre of Auckland! I could have some potatoes & onions from pukekohe (if there are still growers out there), other than that, there is my own garden which is more of a hobby garden - there for the enjoyment than the produce as there is not sufficient in it to feed a family of 4 for more than 2 consecutive nights.
I don't however always buy 'local' (as in grown in NZ) fruits, but the only two things I can think of that I would definately buy as overseas produce are apples and bananas! but I would say that most import items in the grocery dept are well labeled enough (at least in my supermarket) to know if they are NZ grown or imported. In regards to other items that I pop in my trolley, yes, I can say that I buy imported foods - given price & the depth of my husband's wallet!

uli, Jan 23, 8:48am
Good point maxwell. inc - never thought of that :)

And bex32 - yes - many people cannot be "bothered" (whatever that might mean) to even read the labels - let alone think about (or inform themselves) what these "ingredients" mean for your body.

I still maintain if you are willing and interested you can produce close to 100% of your food yourself without too much effort (I should know - I am on crutches since 5 years now) - however if you indulge in the theory of "food miles" or "veganism" (so we can feed 10 billion on earth instead of 6 billion) - or any other ideology for that matter -then you will have an easy cop-out and can keep "discussing" instead of doing.

Let's see if this post is going to be "moderated" along with most of my other posts that I have posted in the last week LOL :)
Maybe I should learn to do screenshots :)

bex32, Jan 23, 9:44am
Thats right uli - people don't know, and lots of them don't want to know either. I think it is slowly starting to make more of an impact on people's lives now, more so than say 10 years ago. Although you have to make an effort, it is well worth it.

buzzy110, Jan 23, 10:09pm
uli screen shots are simplicity itself. First open a Word document (or you can do it last). Position the item you want a screen shot of and press the button on your keyboard that has - Prtscn/SysRq. Now go back to your empty document, right click and paste.

Couldn't be easier but the problem is that the saved version is much smaller than the original. Better to open a document and copy your posts directly into that with the name of the thread as a title.

Or you could just do the screen shot and zoom the page you are pasting it into to 200%. Actually, that is easier.

winnie231, Jan 23, 10:34pm
I certainly look at where things have come from when I'm shopping.
I look for things from my neighbourhood first, Golden Bay second, the Nelson region third, ... and so on.
I don't know if this makes much difference in the big scheme of things but I feel good supporting local growers/producers before others.

timetable, Jan 24, 12:46am
hi everyone - hey thanks for all your comments and thoughts - interesting reading... .

we have always had our own vege garden and have preserved etc... fruit at this stage tends to be brought from central otago or ettrick and the supermarket... . . we are blessed with farm meat:grow our own cattlebeast and pigs, buying hoggets off a friends. have fleging berry plants at home but not enough to supply us with enough for all our jam needs.

i was interested in what the participants in the programme a week or three back, had said about how they had limited their 'food miles' by more than what they had even invisaged (sp) and that it was paying dividends in so many ways. i guess it does depend on what your options are, how much a person can be self seficent and what each of our circumstances are in regard to abilites, likes, dislikes etc... . its all relevant in our own contexts...

blessings all and thanks again for your thoughts...

babychick6, Jan 24, 7:46am
In the supermarket this morning Kiwi fruit from Italy and all the Apples from USA. No I didn't buy any but had been to the local market for my fruit, vege and fish.

Uli, I do not live in Gore but I do live in Southland. How can a person in a flat have a cow for milk? Be realistic about how the majority of people live, in cities and towns without the space to grow more than their vege needs.

uli, Jan 24, 8:42am
babychick6 - the reality IS the problem - we cannot go back to real life now - can we?

This means we cannot feed ourselves "normal food" - and this is what worries me greatly.

There is no way we can be healthy with what we now label "normal food" or a "balanced diet" (which is not "balanced" at all but something like 70% carbs instead of meat, veges and fat - which is what our body has evolved to deal with).

So there IS the problem for you and me and everyone else - we cannot feed ourselves a normal human diet any more - sadly.

If you'd like to know more then read "The Vegetarian Myth": Food, Justice, and Sustainability - by Lierre Keith. It is better than anything I could write here - in fact it is the book I wanted to write 20 years ago.

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