Sunday, 9 August 2009

Food for Thought

During the agriculture course in 1924 that laid the foundation for Biodynamic agriculture Rudolf Steiner stated:

There is practically no field of human endeavour that does not relate to agriculture in some way. Seen from whatever perspective you choose, agriculture touches on every single aspect of human life”

What we eat has an effect on our surroundings, the rural landscape, traditions, and the biodiversity of the earth & well being of our communities.

When we choose food to put on our plate we have great power...

In agriculture our choice determines the variety of foods grown, today fewer varieties are available & we are suffering loss of diversity in our foods. Everywhere you go there are the same foods presented? Many foods are demanded year round outside their natural season & the consumers wonder why it tastes like cardboard!

Our choices also determine how & where the food is grown.

We need to consider how food is produced, and how it affects environmental sustainability. Can it enhance the environment and protect biodiversity?

While the principles behind organic agriculture are sound, like promoting agriculture that has a low impact on the environment and reducing pesticide and herbicide use. However when organic agriculture is practiced on a massive and extensive scale is very similar to conventional monoculture cropping and therefore organic certification alone should not be considered a sure sign that a product is grown in a sustainable way. Although most of the traditions methods use organic techniques, very few are certified, due to the high costs of organic certification. I know from experience this is true. Our farm was the first farm certified in South Australia, we where certified for 13 years until the costs out weighed the benefits.

Our choices also determine the quality of life for rural communities, in fact whether or not they exist. For too long food has been too cheap. The farmers themselves need to be paid a fair price for their produce and the farm workers require fair wages & conditions. Large supermarkets force the prices to farmers down while maintaining a large profit for themselves.

As well as growing some of our own food and experiencing the magical unique taste that comes only from your garden we can also develop a sense of how food is produced. We then need to become very parochial and support local producers rather than supporting food that has travelled around the world.

I think the manifesto that came from Terra Madre, a Slow Food meeting I attended in 2004 attended by 5000 small producers representing 130 countries sums it up best

Quality Food must be:

  • Good. A food’s flavor and aroma, recognizable to educated, well-trained senses. Thus reflecting the competence of the producer and of choice of raw materials and production methods. This also reflects culture as what tastes good to me may not taste good to someone else
  • Clean. The environment has to be respected and sustainable practices of farming, animal husbandry, processing, marketing and consumption should be taken into serious consideration.Every stage should protect ecosystems and biodiversity, safeguarding the health of the consumer and the producer.

  • Fair. Social justice should be pursued through the creation of labor conditions that are respectful of man and his rights and capable of generating adequate rewards; through the pursuit of balanced global economies; through respect for cultural diversities and traditions.

Good, Clean and Fair Quality is a pledge for a better future.

Good, Clean and Fair quality is an act of civilization and a tool to improve the food system as it is today.

Everyone can contribute to Good, Clean and Fair quality through their choices and individual behavior.

More about Slow Food

I would add LOCAL and SEASONAL to any food I purchase.


Maggie said...

We agree Deb.
I spent years trying to, without success, make supermarket food taste good.
Now we eat from our garden or local organic farms every meal is like a feast of taste, colour and good nutrition.
Great photos Deb.

Kate said...

Thanks Deb. You get my vote every time.

Boracay island hotel said...

Hi! I love your blogs. I have learned a lot from this post. I agree, the food that you are cooking has this different taste if you are the one working on it. Satisfying!