The food we buy and eat uses a significant amount of natural resources and has worldwide social, environmental and economic impacts.
We are very lucky in Tasmania to have such fantastic fresh produce and ample farm land. With food insecurity, climate change and dwindling natural resources, we need to ensure that our farmland is protected, our farmers are supported and that our food choices are responsible.
SLT encourages people to learn to grow their own food, support local growers and producers and to reduce the amount of food they throw away.
GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD
Gardening is one of the best ways to reduce our ecological footprint as well as being an extremely rewarding and rejuvenating pastime.
Tips for sustainable gardening
- Add organic matter and compost to soil to add valuable nutrients and enable the soil to hold more water.
- Mulch garden beds and pots – up to 70% of water can be lost through evaporation from the soil.
- Water in the cool of the evening. Apply water to the root zone with long, infrequent watering.
- Use local plants, suited to your local soil and climate.
- Group plants according to their water needs.
- Put a timer on taps.
1. Buy Seasonal. We believe that choosing fruit and veg that is in season is the best thing you can do to reduce the impact of your food choices. Often a pineapple grown in Queensland, harvested when ripe and sent to Tasmania will actually have a substantially lower carbon footprint than a locally grown apple thas has been kept in cold storage for 8 months. Produce that is in season tastes so much better and has higher nutritional content. Get to know what we can grow locally and when it is in season and then indulge while you can. We need to shift our expectations of being able to get tomatoes and raspberries all year round. And it is quite exciting really ... I mean, how amazing are the young asparagus spears at the start of spring, the first cherries of summer and the crisp apples of autumn?
2. Consider where it comes from. This applies to both the distance food has travelled to get to you as well as how it was grown. Supporting local and small to medium sized farms contributes to a strong Tasmanian economy as well as improving food security and maintaining the viability of rural communities. We are so lucky in Tasmania because we have an ideal climate for growing all sorts of food – berries, beans, beetroot, carrots, broccoli, rhubarb, garlic, potatoes, apples, stone fruit, walnuts, herbs...the list goes on and on! The use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers contributes to increased carbon emissions, health issues, water pollution, and can harm biodiversity. Choose local, seasonal and organic when possible.
3. Not all foods are equal. Meat and dairy products generally require far more energy to produce than plant foods. For example, it takes 20 units of energy to produce one unit of beef compared to 0.5 for carrots, 1 for milk and 7 for cheese. Fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes are the most efficient foods in converting energy from the sun into calories to power our bodies. They also require less processing, packaging, transport and storage.
4. Go naked! Packaging makes up a large proportion of household waste. Many products have several layers of unnecessary packaging. Buy unpackaged food in bulk when possible. If you want to put your fruit and veg in bags, bring some with you from home rather than getting new ones from the shop every time. And, of course, remember to take your reusable shopping bag with you to the shop! There are lots of cloth bags available now that are very strong, stylish and fit easily into a handbag, pocket or backpack. Aluminium cans require an enormous amount of energy to produce, so try to avoid buying them whenever possible.
5. Will it make you feel good? Many of the foods eaten in a typical home contain little nutritional value. Our busy schedules have seen the demand for pre-prepared, quick foods increase dramatically in recent years. Generally, the more processed the food the less nutrition you will get from it. Check the labels of foods to see how many of the ingredients are additives, preservatives, fillers or flavours. You may be quite surprised! All that processing also uses up heaps of energy!
DID YOU KNOW?
- Australians throw away more than $5 billion worth of food a year.
- It takes 7.4 calories of energy to produce one calorie of food.
- The average Australian consumes 110 kg meat per year, while the daily amount, recommended by the Australian Department of Health and Aging, is 36.5kg per year: 65-100g per day.
Sustainable Living Guides to help you with gardening and food production
- Gardening – basic tips on getting started with gardening
- Composting – learning how to turn food scraps, paper and grass clippings into lovely soil
- Household and garden pests – safe, effective remedies for house and garden pests
- Rainwater tanks – work out the best kind of rainwater tank for your property and water without worrying about bills