‘Our food is in danger’: Slow Food issue eat local challenge

TAKING IT SLOW: Slow Food Shoalhaven leader Rosie Cupitt (back left) with members Linda Hatch, Marianne Cool, Shelagh Atkinson and Evelyn May at the Gaia Farmer's Market in Ulladulla.
TAKING IT SLOW: Slow Food Shoalhaven leader Rosie Cupitt (back left) with members Linda Hatch, Marianne Cool, Shelagh Atkinson and Evelyn May at the Gaia Farmer's Market in Ulladulla.

‘Shake the hand that feeds you’ – that is the motto of the Slow Food Shoalhaven society and a challenge that has been issued to residents by their leader Rosie Cupitt. 

“What we are doing is challenging residents to eat local and support small producers,” she said. 

“The challenge is running internationally until December 31 and is designed to raise awareness about the effect food production has on climate change.

“To help to overcome these effects, the campaign is focusing on encouraging people to eat locally to cut down carbon miles and support small producers.”

Slow Food Shoalhaven leader Rosie Cupitt has challenged residents to "eat local".

Slow Food Shoalhaven leader Rosie Cupitt has challenged residents to "eat local".

Mrs Cupitt said the group hopes by encouraging people to try “eating local” before the end of the year they will encourage small changes that will become a habit. 

“I think slow food is about trying to make people aware that food doesn't just come from supermarkets,” she said. 

“There are people who grow the food, people who can grow the food and sell it to you, and talk about to you about it.

“It’s really important that we teach our children where food comes from and how we can make food production sustainable.” 

We want a fair price for the consumer and a fair price for the producer.

Rosie Cupitt

Mrs Cupitt said she is scared by the current supermarket duopoly and their ability to “control” farmers and primary producers. 

“They are controlling the market and farmers with the price they pay them,” she said.

“Contracts are set and farmers don't have a choice but to sell to them, not in every case but in lots.

“The supermarkets often don't do the right thing by the producer and there is an opportunity for supermarkets not to pay a fair price to farmers.”

The slow food motto is good, clean and fair food for all, something Mrs Cupitt hopes the Shoalhaven can adopt during this challenge and well into the future. 

“It's good, meaning good and flavoursome food,” she said.

“Clean, meaning there are no chemicals in the food, and fair, is that there is a fair price for the consumer and a fair price for the producer.

Slow Food Shoalhaven leader Rosie Cupitt has challenged residents to "eat local".

Slow Food Shoalhaven leader Rosie Cupitt has challenged residents to "eat local".

“We need to shop locally to encourage more people to become producers and make them more sustainable. They need our support.

“For instance the Gaia Markets were really well supported, but it has waned. Now the producers aren’t coming as here for it because they aren't supported. 

“We need to get into the habit of buying locally.”

Speaking at the Slow Food national conference in August, Associate Professor Francesco Sottile said 66 per cent of the energy used to produce food comes from unsustainable methods.

Eating food that is homegrown, locally grown or made by local producers lessens the energy needs. 

“If we can cut down the energy used in food production by doing it locally then we are reducing the effects of climate change by reducing the outputs of machinery and the miles the food has to travel because we aren’t burning fossil fuels and omitting Co2,” Mrs Cupitt said. 

“W need to get into the habit of looking at what is on the shelves and making sure that number one it’s Australian and number two it's from the local region.

“It's for the good of the country and the good of your stomach.” 

Slow Food Shoalhaven’s top five reasons to eat local

  1. Taste: Local food is more delicious. 
  2. Biodiversity: Small-scale farmers often grow diverse varieties of plants. This gives wider variety of flavor and supports best environmental practices. 
  3. Economy: You’ll support local farms, boost the economy in your region and take money away from corporate giants. 
  4. Waste: Shopping at farmers' markets means less packaging. 
  5. Climate  You’ll reduce fossil fuels used to produce and transport food.

Are you a small producer? Entries are now open for a share of the annual $5000 small-producer grant from Slow Food Shoalhaven. Find out more by clicking here