Day 1: We are going to starve to death! Well we would if this is how we are going to sustain ourselves for the next 30 days as we attempt to only eat local within 200km from here. I expected a degree of imported food, but not as much as I found at the local supermarket. This trip was a good starting point as it is where most of us go by default to do our weekly shop.
I knew there would be things we’d have to give up like pineapple, bananas and coffee (although we have decided to keep the coffee as a 5% for sanity reasons) and the delicious yet extremely affordable curries all the way from India. But what surprised me the most was the duplicity on the labelling. On the front of a lot of products there is rhetoric in bright colours alluding to the local nature of the food within the packaging. But like some kind of wide sweeping corporate disclaimer in the fine print it more often than not states the product is “Made in New Zealand from Local and Imported Ingredients.”
This seems to be a safety cover-all like the one they use for the poor people with allergies that says “Manufactured in a facility which also processes:…[ insert all allergens known to man here] lest they kill someone. The worst thing is choosing to be local is a lifestyle choice. People with allergies have no choice and are way more restricted than they need to be, if there wasn’t this butt covering and a higher degree of transparency and integrity. This is life and death stuff for some people.
I mean take rolled oats for example. Ingredients 100% oats. “Made in New Zealand from Local and Imported Ingredients.” How is that possible? The oats in the store were from Dunedin – you couldn’t get further away and be in the same country. I think Australia is closer. I may need to look around for a more local source.
The other thing that shocked me was it seems a lot of our trusted ‘local’ companies have sold out some time ago and either import their products and repackage here to stake a local claim or manufacture offshore and retain the old familiar branding that we have all grown to love and trust. Is our economy that dire that it is more affordable to drag our food from half a world away? Or is it more of a board room issue?
The other problem with the labelling is the address listed on the box is the corporate head office. I don’t imagine there are too many vast manufacturing factories in the heart of our largest cities. And a quick internet search on my smartphone in the store revealed only what the company wants me to know – pictures of happy chickens and crops in the sunshine harvested in baskets by smiling children. Ok I exaggerate but you get the picture. The factory location would seem at first glance in a secret location. Further digging will be required.
Digging on the internet for information, but also in my garden. If I’m to be locally responsible, then I need to up the game at home. I think whole food is the only real way to be local and growing it yourself is the only way you can truly know where your food has come from.
We live in an incredibly fertile country with a very small population. My recent trip to Atlanta took me to a CITY with more people than we have in our whole country. We have 4.4 million people calling themselves Kiwis and Atlanta has 5.5 million locals. Surely it can’t be that hard for us to feed ourselves.
Come again soon – I’ll try to keep the ranting to a minimum, but this kind of shocked me a little. I never realised it was that bad.
Sarah the Gardener : o )