an ode to buying locally and eating seasonally

In this modern world we have become unnaturally infatuated with the glaringly and fluorescently luminescent aisles of supermarkets. We have become so accustomed to meat driven meals that we have normalised them. We have come to consider daily meat consumption a necessity rather than the luxury that it is. The question :”where’s the meat in this?” has become a normalised and expected one when eating dinners that seem flesh-poor. We have become unaware of which fruits and vegetables are able to be grown in particular seasons because our supermarkets can just ship “fresh” produce in from other countries or grow them unnaturally using chemicals or heating. We have lost the feeling of excitement at seeing the first tomatoes arriving at our green grocer. We have lost the flavour of a fresh tomato ripened in the summer sun. We eat homogenised fruit and vegetables, while varieties, that don’t produce as much fruit, have fallen by the way-side, at the cost of diverse flavour, colour and nutrition in our food. We hide the nature of animal slaughtering from our children and ourselves, deeming it too graphic for consideration. We turn a blind eye to the increasing rate of factory farming worldwide as the rest of the world is infected by our Western normalised thirst for daily meat rations. It spreads to places like China, where a population of nearly 1 and a half billion craving meat daily is practically a physical impossibility. But, why should we have something that they can’t? Western practices are seen as a demonstration of status and wealth across the world, so our penchant for daily meat meals has repcussions beyond our imagining. Others want it too, because it reflects what we have, wealth and prosperity. China and India are increasingly becoming wealthier… where do we think this is going to end? We claim that ignorance is bliss because it means I can have my bacon and eat it too. However, I am not of this opinion. I feel that in this situation, when we are choosing ignorance, even though we know that something is not quite right about what we’re doing… it’s actually not ignorance any more. It’s pretty much straight up negligence.

Some would argue that we have gained much in this process, some will ignore what I have to say because it makes them uncomfortable. However, this discomfort is precisely the reason why we should listen. Discomfort is a dead-give-away that we know our actions aren’t okay.

I know what people expect to hear when they hear a proponent of more ethical eating talk about their eating habits. They expect to hear ranting. They expect to feel a finger pointed at them, they expect to hear about the joys of lentils and tofu. If this is what you expect to hear then you will probably hear it.

I am not a vegetarian or a vegan. I really like lentils and tofu, but they aren’t the bulk of my diet. I eat them occasionally, as part of very diverse balanced diet. I know that some people feel strongly about their choice to not eat animal products, but I eat eggs and some meat. Occasionally I eat dairy. This was choice I made after much research and thought. But, I only buy animal produce that I know the background to. I want to know that the money I’m spending is going towards ethical, sustainable farming practices. I want to make sure that I am supporting people who invest in the land, in their animals and if I can’t have this then I will not eat these products.  So, how do I make sure that I know how my food has been grown/farmed….?

I shop at a farmer’s market. They’re all over the place nowadays. When we lived in Perth our favourite was the Subiaco Primary School market  (on Saturdays from8-12 noon), nowadays we haunt the Margaret River Farmer’s Market. It is pure joy to venture out on a Saturday morning to buy your fortnightly or weekly supplies. It’s wonderful to meet and discuss produce with the people who grew/farmed/produced the food you’re going to be eating for the next week.

The markets are filled with beautiful, diverse produce, they’re a pallet of colour, a cacophony of banter and the tastes available are pretty sensational…

Italian biscuits crates of quincesroasting chestnuts pumpkin competition limes at a farmer's market Mario from Macleod Creektomato and goat's cheese tart yallingup wood fired bread  IMGP2139 Heirloom seed varieties persimons horned cucumbers and rosellas carob beans fresh basil heirloom cherry tomatoes rainbow chard market butternut pears at the market  limes at the markets parikascold pressed apple juice fejoa guavas Bahen cacao beans bahen and co chocolate market fresh tomatoes eggplants from farmer's markets flowers at the markets

In the coming weeks I’ll be interviewing the people who make and farm the produce for the Margaret River’s Farmer’s markets and I’ll be posting the interviews right here on this very blog. That means we can all find out about how food is produced on a small (or large) scale and what kinds of passions drive people to produce food for themselves and others. Then, I’ll be writing a recipe using the amazing produce from the interviewed grower/maker and posting it onto my food blog, The Capers of the Kitchen Crusader. I feel it’s really important for us as shoppers and community members to support others within our community who are working to feed us. I feel like this is a way that I can do that.

In amongst all this farmer’s market enthusiasm, you might be thinking: how can I access a farmer’s market? Where is the market closest to me?

Thankfully, someone has thought to collate all the farmer’s markets in Australia (and undoubtedly there’s something similar out there for other countries too.) The Australian Farmer’s Market Association has a list of markets and you can find it at this link, so you can get involved in buying fresh, local produce from the passionate people who produced it too.

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