Part 02 of the Becoming the Alternative series
by Ché Pritchard
These two phrases come from seemingly separate worlds and might not usually be seen in the same sentence together, but now more than ever they are inextricably linked. During a time of global lockdown not only are we as individuals eating at home more often, but the veil has been lifted on the global economy and people at all levels of society are discussing, learning and questioning global economic systems now more than ever. And who doesn’t like talking about food?!
As social restrictions are being lifted, what better time than now to look at what your ‘new normal’ lifestyle entails and how your personal actions really do affect the bigger global picture. In the global trade and movement of goods (the Global Economy), how you stock your kitchen is possibly the key to having a bigger effect on how this world operates.
It’s a two-way street. The economic systems and structures within which we operate affect our decisions and lifestyles, and yet if we are measured and deliberate in our lifestyle choices we can have an effect on those exact same systems and structures.
Without getting too bogged down in Economics dribble (which I would love to do but will save you this time round), Localization is what ultimately may best serve the planet, the economy, communities and cultures. There are a plethora of benefits in localizing economies, but today we’ll stick to how it all relates to your kitchen and the bigger effects of your food decisions.
Same same but different; the micro and the macro.
My Mama has some beautiful artwork up in her kitchen that says
‘No matter where I serve my guests, it seems they like my kitchen best!’
This is a fine example of the acknowledgement that food is what bonds us in our cutltures, communities and relationships. For millennia, rituals around food and eating, and the kitchen itself has always been the heart of any home. Food is how we nourish our bodies and souls, hopefully keeping us healthy and paving a path to a happy life. If we zoom out, could we compare the way we feel about what goes on in our kitchens to what we likely desire for the global population? A sense of connection? Nourishment? Equality? If and when we acknowledge all our brothers and sisters of all nationalities and generations, I’m sure our humanness demands these basic qualities in society. Are we really ok with knowing that our spoilt requests for cheaper monoculture grains and products actually deprives and prevents developing world local communities from thriving amongst themselves?
This is most often the case. We think we are providing work to foreign peoples, but in actual fact we are stripping power from them and putting it in the hands of large multinational corporations that in turn apply immense pressure for them to produce monoculture crops for pittance, while keeping the profits out of their local economy.
The good news is that we can play our part in changing this system, and it all starts in our kitchen and where we go to get our food!
Plastic free for a healthier planet.
If food isn’t being transported long distances and/or being stored for long periods of time it doesn’t have to be packaged the same way.
I think we can safely assume the global population as a whole are pretty much all on board with at least minimising plastic usage (particularly with food products) not only for the environment but for our health as well, and so what better way to do this than to stock our kitchens with fresh and local foods that haven’t needed plastic packaging. Bulk food shopping is great as we can more easily identify where foods come from and we can get the amounts we want (saving us from buying more plastic packets etc each week, or having excess wasted by going bad).
The world in your kitchen.
Localisation doesn’t mean we will be left eating only potatoes, carrots, apples and bananas. Especially here in multicultural Australia we can still stock our kitchens full of exotic fruit and veg. Many international varieties of fruit and vegetables are grown locally now too! It might not always be from ‘down the road’, but there are plenty of farms in this beautiful fertile country! Also, there are so many local/native fruit and veg options that you might not have even heard of yet.. how exciting! (and don’t get me started on edible ‘weeds’!)
If you’ve searched for local options and have no luck, you can always research substitutes for whatever you might be looking for to put your own ‘style’ on any recipe or food offering.
Show me the money.
I would bet my bottom dollar that the majority of us would prefer to give our money to our local farmer (whom we know the name of) rather than spread it across a range of multinational (and often internationally owned) organisations who have no vested interest in our health, community or environment.
It makes no sense that a tomato from Spain is cheaper than one from a farm 20km down the road. It’s absolutely insanity! Without going into too much detail, this is made possible by ridiculous trade deals, subsidies and tax breaks provided by government to large corporations. Regardless of how that all works, we can use our common sense and take control of how we influence the system by handing our money to people that keep the money and work local. Ask yourself, if you had food in the garden, wouldn’t you go outside and get that before going to the shops? Well it’s the same with getting food from a farmer a few kms away compared to getting it from another country!
Diversified seasonal crops may be more labour intensive, but this would actually just mean more local jobs, which wouldn’t be an issue as they have been proven to have a much higher yield than monoculture farms.
As an added bonus, by turning our focus to local markets and bulk stores for our food needs we can avoid the temptations and upselling in the unhealthy aisles in supermarkets, looking after our health and saving us plenty of $ in the process!
So all in all, the way we choose to source food and stock our kitchens has a direct impact on the flow of economic activity locally and/or globally and has the ability to shape the systems and structures within which we operate. For me personally it’s a no-brainer, localization is key and the best part is that we can all start immediately by finding and visiting our local markets and bulk stores! Your community, your body and the planet will all thank you dearly!
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2020!
Note: For more amazing resources on Localization and to connect with existing working examples of Localization in action around the world, I would recommend checking out https://www.localfutures.org/ led by the amazing and esteemed Helena Norberg-Hodge.