Many people are coming to the realisation that we live in an era of convenience and getting away from our roots of food production. For me, this issue set in when I left the food production industry in 1997 for. My concern was that too many people were leaving regional areas and we were seeing rationalization of industries like dairy production. This led to factories around the country being shut down and effectively closing down small towns as a consequence.
|Newcastle City Farmers Markets|
By the early 2000's there seemed to be an early movement in the "Tree Change" concept with communities rediscovering the love of their region and investing in ventures like wineries and cheese factories, farmers markets and boutique ventures that brought people to visit. It was the birth of food tourism.
Along with this development of regional food, we also saw to rise of the Television celebrity chef and the continued promotional of regional food. With this process now coming into the mainstream with shows like "Masterchef", "My Kitchen Rules" and even the personal favourite, The Great Australian Bake Off, the joy of home cooking has meant a proliferation of small produce markets and importantly a diversification of farming revenue streams. My local is the Newcastle City Farmers Markets which are held each Sunday at the Newcastle Show Grounds. The diversity of regional produce is outstanding.
On the home garden angle, this historically been left to pensioners with time on their hands and to the conspiracy theorists believing there is an end of the world not far around the corner. Around 1999 with all of the guf about Y2K computer issues, the stocking up of cans in the pantry didn't seem unreasonable.
|Bees doing their thing on the citrus blossom|
Forums like Instagram and Twitter are wonderful environments to share the love of growing food. While it may seem fashionable it doesn't take away from the self satisfaction of producing your own goods that you have made with your own labour and just a drop of sweat.
Eating produce in season is the result of this process and it certainly forces you to change your approach to cooking. The need to stay with a given product for a month or even two, but cook with variety, is a challenge that brings diversity to the cooking repertoire.
This past month has seen a concerted effort to use all of my lemons in a vast array without putting thins in jars. Verdict? Enjoyed the strawberries, lemon mouse in puff pastry, topped with roasted almonds.