Close to home: the benefits of eating locally

WORDS Beatrice Smith
PHOTOS Andrew Ly
From eating food grown in sync with the seasons, to choosing produce that is fresher and requires less energy to transport, there are so many reasons to eat local.

Living in a globalised economy, we can cook with ingredients sourced from across the world. But while we might relish buying authentic mochi from Japan and Champagne from France, most would agree that local food is preferable for the every day.

As Kate Freeman, Nutritionist and owner of the Healthy Eating Hub, puts it “we’re fast-paced and connected on a global level like never before. Therefore, you can be eating a fish caught 10,000 kilometres away three months after it was caught, coated in a batter made from ingredients originating in three or four different countries, served with vegetables grown and harvested in a developing country a few weeks earlier”.

Stallholders also sell plants, clothes and handmade items

If this reality makes you feel uneasy, you’re not alone. Many Canberrans are choosing to cut food miles and source seasonally-grown ingredients from local producers—and it’s not hard to see why.

With Canberra sandwiched between the fertile Riverina (nicknamed the ‘food bowl’ of Australia) and the abundant seafood haven of the South Coast, excellent produce is easy to come by — especially with the prevalence of local markets bringing it close to home.

Naturally, being a green-minded community, Ginninderry is trialling a market for its own locals.

 

“We have long aimed to bring a market to Ginninderry for the primary purpose of bringing fresh local produce to our area,” says Tulitha King, Ginninderry’s Community Development Manager. “Recently we learnt that most of Canberra’s food comes from the Sydney region so supporting the local growers is another aim of hosting a market here.”

However, Tulitha says the benefits of markets extend beyond locals lowering their food miles.

“Rather than consider the market an event I think of it as a ‘third space’, a place where people turn up regularly, see each other often in an unpressured environment and start to get to know one another slowly, over time,” she explains.
“People are there undertaking a task, so they’re not focussed on meeting with other people. I think this aspect can encourage the wide range of people to come together—the extroverts and the introverts.”

 

Held over Summer and early Autumn months, the Ginninderry Markets were organised by Ginninderry Rotary in the GX Display Village with diverse (and delicious) offerings. “We were lucky enough to have two committed vegetable providers—one of these also brought apples and I have heard people say they were the best apples they’ve ever tasted!” says Tulitha. “We also had a regular baker, Donut Girls. They were there from the beginning and regularly sold out!”

“There was also been a great plant and macrame stall, The Bump Boutique, earrings, and value-added food products such as Simply Lentils and Fanci Fungi.” Beyond exceptional apples and decadent donuts, Tulitha says she sees these markets as a welcoming and inclusive environment that reflects the values of Ginninderry and its community.

 

“When I look at a market, I see what a true local economy looks like. It is human scale, regional and there are few barriers to participate. People need low barrier avenues to engage economically and markets can support industrious, enterprising people to have a go and start something new and creative with little outlay. Markets provide this and people seem to love them for that.

“There was also been a great plant and macrame stall, The Bump Boutique, earrings, and value-added food products such as Simply Lentils and Fanci Fungi.”

Beyond exceptional apples and decadent donuts, Tulitha says she sees these markets as a welcoming and inclusive environment that reflects the values of Ginninderry and its community.

 

“When I look at a market, I see what a true local economy looks like. It is human scale, regional and there are few barriers to participate. People need low barrier avenues to engage economically and markets can support industrious, enterprising people to have a go and start something new and creative with little outlay. Markets provide this and people seem to love them for that. I think the human element is a big part of this.”
And this is just the beginning for this special ‘third space’.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Markets was seeing local residents from west Belconnen bringing their stalls to the markets; from earrings and clothes to Vietnamese street food and mushrooms. Local performers also brought their creative flavour, such as the Ginninderry With One Voice Choir, Northside Dance Studio and several local buskers. These examples of hyper-local community contribution are something we hope to build on in the future.

 

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