Last Friday night I trundled along to Salisbury, a mostly industrial part of Brisbane, to help Food Connect celebrate their tenth birthday. As you would expect, there was loads of great food, entertainment and heaps of people who have supported Food Connect in some way over the last ten years.
The highlight for me was hearing Joel Salatin speak.
Joel is first and foremost a farmer, second generation at Polyface Farm, in the stunning Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, USA. He is a passionate defender of local food systems and fighter for rights of farmers.
Last week he eloquently spoke on who makes the perfect partner for a farmer. In Joel’s perfect world, the perfect partner for a farmer is someone who:
- sees themselves as part of a team, working with the farmer in tandem
- really buys food by sidestepping the supermarket system
- loves to solve the inventory problems all farmers face – they buy the whole animal, the imperfect veggies, the wonky-looking pieces of fruit. Importantly, they eat leftovers. They don’t throw food away – as Joel says, leftovers are really a status symbol and a sign we have arrived
- really wants to invest in healing food and thinks of food as medicine. Food really needs to be valued more in our health care system. Wouldn’t it be great if farmers earned as much as cardiologists??
- embraces seasonality and celebrates the abundance of availability. If you can’t buy Australian-grown asparagus, pick another veggie
- get excited about cultivating the domestic culinary arts. By this he means GET IN YOUR KITCHEN AND COOK!!
So, how are you going to become a better partner for your farmers? A few simple things you can do are:
- join a CSA (community supported agriculture) and get your fruit and veg directly from a farmer
- join a herd-share and buy a part of a cow or a lamb or pig
- frequent farmers markets and get to know who the farmers are vs those that just buy from a wholesaler and re-sell
- buy mindfully – meal plan, have a grocery list, buy what you need. Then use it. Whatever you do, don’t chuck food away – if you must, then compost or feed it to the chooks. Every neighbourhood has a family that has chooks! I would love for our neighbours to give their veggie scraps to our girls.
- cook at home, eat your leftovers for lunch, encourage your kids to cook. If you don’t know how, take some cooking lessons, watch YouTube videos, ask me for advice (I have had friends call me to ask how to roast veggies, poach eggs, cook chicken thigh fillets – no question is too silly, I’m just grateful that they want to learn).
What are you doing to become a good partner for a farmer? What can you do better?? Let’s keep this conversation happening.