What Eat Local Feed Global means to me..

“When I hear the Oxfam phrase ‘Eat Local Feed Global’, I immediately think of the Australian farmers and scientists who are doing exactly that.

Each Australian farmer produces enough food to feed 600 people per year; this amounts to 150 people in Australia and 450 people overseas. In total, Aussie farmers produce enough food to feed 60 million people each year.

Australia’s top three agricultural exports are wheat, beef and wool. Australian farmers are leaders in efficiency of production, we do it well and it is something to be proud of. We are also leading in agriculture innovation. In 2008-09 alone, Aussie farmers invested $244 million for research and development through Research and Development Corporations.

Over the past decade however, productivity has declined. This can be attributed to extended drought conditions, higher input costs and long-term reduction in public investment in research and development. The industry is also facing a high demand for skilled professionals. Estimates indicate a potential demand of 6000 tertiary qualified graduates per sector every year. Additionally, the average age of the Australian farmer in 2006 was 52 years old. Who is going to fill all of these empty places in the agricultural industry and ensure we remain competitive in the international market?

In 2012 I was lucky to spend seven months on an agriculture research project in Tibet as an Australian Volunteer for International Development, funded by the Australian Government. The project looked at integrating dairy and grain production, and investigating new and improved ways of producing and storing grains. The project was a collaboration between local and Australian scientists – a productive way of sharing capabilities and increasing the scientific knowledge of both parties. This experience in Tibet showed me the amazing opportunities there are in agriculture, and pushed me to pursue a career as a research scientist.

The continuation of innovation is now more critical than ever to our rural industry’s growth, profitability and sustainability.We need more investment in research to ensure that Australia can adapt farming practices in a changing climate, and we need to recruit more young people to implement this change. Address these two issues, and Australia can continue to feed both the local Australian people, and the greater global population.”

Bonnie Flohr is presenting at the Oxfam Eat Local Feed Global event in Sydney on September 18.

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Show and share

In Year One, I remember being SO excited upon finding a caterpillar in my backyard over the weekend. Instantly, I thought it would be a great idea to bring to school for show and tell to share my incredible find with my classmates.

caterpillarBy showing them my new stripy, squishy friend, I was able to tell them all about how it came to be, what it is, why it’s important, and what would become of this little guy. (We released him into the school gardens after lunch.) And thus, through sharing my discovery, Class 1P found out about how butterflies looked before they hid away in their cocoons and emerged, wings sprouted and all.

In the same way, I want to share with you about my recent find. It’s a little bit like my secret caterpillar, except instead of keeping it in a jar this time, I’ll allow it to spread its wings and maybe even lay an egg in your head. Metaphorically, of course.

Do you remember the old ‘Seek and ye shall find? Knock and it shall be opened unto you?’

Well, I recently moved out and into a new home. It’s awesome. I’ve two great housemates, my own bedroom and my own space! But… I don’t have internet. No wifi. No ADSL. Not even old school dial-up is installed.  #firstworldproblems much?

No, I am not living in the bush, nor underground in a cave. Yes, we do have electricity and running water. Housemate # 1 just uses the internet at work, the local library and on her phone. And Housemate #2 uses an internet dongle. So we’re not completely in the dark…figuratively. However, after researching internet plans and realising I can’t commit to a year-long plan, nor believing 30 bucks for 2gigs of USB internet is worthwhile…I did a little wifi scan on my lappy and noticed there’s at least 10 networks within the range of my bedroom…

Then I realised…surely one of these belongs to one of the apartments beside, above or below me. Someone might even be willing to share, right? I tossed it up in my head; the embarrassment of asking, legalities, likelihood of getting rejected. But…WHAT IF THEY SAY YES?

After weeks of mulling and deliberating and consulting with my friends (I’m the most indecisive person EVER), I decided to do it. Armed with a smile and freshly made banana bread, the plan was to offer to chip in for the bill each month. If they said no, there were at least 9 other doors I could annoy try.

Turns out I needn’t worry. First knock on my next door neighbour’s door and, -let’s call him Peter, let me in. I explained my sitch, and he happily obliged. (Though his big hearted and big mouthed gorgeous five year old son might have had something to do with it, innocently blurting “We have a VERY GOOD internet connection here!” before his dad even responded. Bless.)

No repayment would be needed, he insisted. But would I be able to feed Momo, their cat while they were away?

Cat feeding in return for wifi?

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Um, heck yeah! No worries at all, Pete!

Since then, I’ve fed the cat on several occasions and delivered more home baked goods. I’ve also saved money and enjoyed unlimited free internet usage.

And although sharing internet may seem obscure or trivial (and possibly even illegal?), this talk made me realise that this kind of stuff happens all the time. In fact, it’s kind of a thing. Just with more tangible stuff. Like vacuums, lawn mowers. Even cake mixers, to stuff like cars and tools.

It’s seriously a win-win-win. You get to know your neighbours, forge and build new relationships, save landfill, storage space and money!

So if you need anything, and are on a bit of a budget, or simply care about the environment, give it a whirl! As somebody once told me, “not asking will guarantee a definite ‘no’, but asking means a 50% ‘yes.’”

For bigger bit and bobs, sites like TuShare and Gumtree are also great for free or cheap new and second-hand goods.

So what have you got to lose? Give it a go!

 

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MasterChef, leftovers edition

Cooking shows are everywhere. Love or loathe them, they’ve inspired us to creep beyond toast, lured our taste buds to new and different sensations, and shown us that with a bit of creativity and a sprinkle of faith, any dish can be transformed into a success.

What these shows don’t address, however, are leftovers. Ever opened your fridge or pantry at the end of the week and find it resembles a MasterChef Mystery Box, except wildly more abstract and on the more wilted, slightly pungent side?

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Cue: the Sniff Test. If it hasn’t passed the expiry date, it stays. If you’ve passed out (from sight or smell), it goes. But lets be real, a clean fridge doesn’t necessarily mean a clean conscience. Food wasted is another meal you could have enjoyed, or a few more coins in your pocket.

Or you could make it into an interactive art project, and turn it into something like this.

chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mmm, chicken. I get it though, cooking with leftovers can be tricky. Especially when the ingredients just don’t seem to match. But it can be done. Just check out these innovative, easy peasy Chinese dumplings!

Not convinced? The following ideas will have you saying:

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  1. Greatist has SIXTY-FIVE awesome ways to transform those staples that there’s always just a little bit too much of! We’re talking bread, rice, pastas, eggs, meat and fish.
  2. Nifty BigOven is so clever. Plug in any three leftovers, and bam, an entire list of tried and tested recipes by other users appears at your fingertips featuring whatever crazy random combo of ingredients you have on hand.
  3. Proof that throwing things together CAN be edible, delicious AND visually appealing can be found here.  Awesome ideas, too!Bonus round.
  4. Fruit and veggies can live to see another day too. Even fruit peels. Extreme composting anyone? Check it.

Lettuce know how you go!

 

 

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National Climate Day of Action

Next Sunday. 21 September. It’s here. It’s happening. Millions of people around the world – from New Delhi to New York – will hit the streets like never before for a massive, inspiring, and truly global day of climate action.  Australia will be the first to ring in September 21st – and it’s set to be the biggest coordinated demonstration of people power the world has ever seen.

Climate change is the single biggest threat to winning the fight against hunger, and governments and the big food companies aren’t taking enough notice. More intense heat waves, storms, droughts, and floods are destroying crops, pushing the price of food up and the availability of food down. Women and farmers in poor communities are being hit the hardest.

The National Climate Day of Action, this Sunday 21 September is an opportunity to show the world, and our government, that we Aussies are ready to keep fighting for action on climate change.

With the climate summit in New York on the horizon — and a new global agreement being negotiated by the end of 2015 — we need to build real power so that Australia does its fair share in tackling climate change. So join us, so that our government can listen up and catch up with the rest of the world in combating climate change.

Here’s the plan:

  • Make our political leaders hear the case for change loudly and clearly. Using megaphones, laptops, phones, clipboards and media, we will amplify the voices of Australian farmers, women from Vanuatu and the Philippines and others at the frontline dealing with the impacts of climate change.
  • Grow our power. We’ll come together at key moments like the climate summit in New York, World Food Day (Thursday 16 October), the anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan and climate talks in Lima, Peru. We will ask our friends, family and workmates to join us.
  • Change the way the world’s largest food companies do business. Already, you’ve helped pressure Kellogg and General Mills — the makers of Old El Paso and Latina Pasta — to agree to help stop climate change making people hungry. The big 10 food companies emit more emissions than Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark combined. We need these companies to do more and use their power to call on governments to follow suit.

ClimateAction_Graphic

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A banquet you’ll never forget

“You’ve worked a long day to support your family. You haven’t drunk since yesterday. You prepare your only meal for the next 24 hours – a small serving of rice for you and your whole family. And you are one of the lucky ones.”

While scenes like this often seem a world away, what if we told you Thomas and Matthew, the guys who wrote the above quote, come from a high school in country Victoria?

Eat Local Feed Global is coming up next month and is all about what we totally love: Food! Weeeeeell, food security to be exact.

Throughout October, schools and uni groups across Australia are getting on board by holding a Hunger Banquet. Hunger Banquets are awesome lunchtime events run by students, for students, to give them a taste (literally) of the inequalities in our global food system.

Ballarat Grammar School 2Thomas Leadbetter and Matthew Hall, Year 11 students from Ballarat Grammar, were part of a group of students that held an epic Hunger Banquet at their school, where everyone from Grade 3 to Yr 12 took part!

They wrote to 3things to tell us about the dining experience no-one at their school will ever forget:

“The usually gridlocked canteen closed its doors, the dining hall was shut, and everyone proceeded to the oval for a starkly different dining experience. Each student gathered in their house groups and requested their lunch, and got a simple serving of rice on a leaf of lettuce.

“There were a few lucky ones: Two from each house represented middle-income countries and were given a roll and drink, while one lucky member was waited on for a full three-course meal at a table in the middle of the oval. A gong sounded every 3.6 seconds to symbolise one death from famine, a constant reminder of the reality of the problem.

“Walking around the oval, many were annoyed by the lack of their usual midday meal, but because of this, began to discuss the issue and grasped a real awareness of the problem. For the one percent with a three course feast, the experience was bittersweet, enjoying themselves but seeing the often invisible problem of global wealth distribution presented before their eyes.

“While it seems a huge task to fix, it may not be as far off as we imagine. We can strive to make this world hunger free. This was the true point of the day, to not only show the hardships of what people have to deal with every day but make the school community realise that we have an obligation to do something.”

Wanna get on board and host your own? Head to www.oxfam.org.au/elfg and click on the Schools/Unis tab.

Once you register your event you’ll get a swanky ‘How To’ kit with everything you need to run your event and take your place at the forefront of the movement to end global hunger.

 

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