The importance of sourcing food locally and where the ‘Newcastle Farmers Markets’ can fall a bit short.

Primary Producers get a very rough trot with food prices driven by harsh deals and bullying from Supermarket chains so the Supermarket chains can still make profit while selling a products at unreasonably cheap prices. SM chain ability and willingness to import food from far afield helps devalue locally produced foodstuffs.

This pressure on farmers contributes to damage of our food security in several ways….
Smaller producers don’t get deals to provide SM chains produce as these poor prices mean only very large producers can meet the set requirements. This has created a food marketplace that doesn’t favour diversity of food types or diversity of location where any food item is grown. It is beneficial to have larger number of smaller producers rather than fewer massive ones for the sake of product diversity, redundancy and food security resilience in the face of climate change and its associated unpredictable climate swings and natural disasters. A great example of this, is the banana shortage in 2011 caused by a cyclone Yasi wiping out the majority of all Australian banana plantations in one event.

It is a bad idea to have all of our eggs in one basket so to speak…

The less distance food travels, the less need for packaging waste and unhealthy preservatives, also the greater chance of us being able to access fresh products that store and travel less well (because they don’t need to!).
Of coarse, don’t forget the concept of “Food Kilometres” which talks about how much extra carbon we are expending into the atmosphere for every additional km food has been transported. This is only a part of the carbon footprint of a product but it is one that we can somewhat improve for those foods that you can actually grow in your region. I’m not saying we should never engage in imported or long-travelled products that might not be able to grow in your area, just that we can do way better with all of the things we can produce near where one lives.

There are produce vendors that buy from a larger vendor and resell the product for a higher price rather than value-adding, and are thus adding to the cost of a product without actually contributing anything to its value. By value-adding I refer to; drying, pickling, candying, cooking with it, etc.
The more of these buyer/sellers or ‘middle men’ a product goes through, the more inflation occurs when really that money would be better off in the hands of struggling producers for the sake of the continued availability of that food. If you are lucky enough to live near or drive past a farm, buying from a Farm Gate stall is a fantastic way to reward a producer for their fresh produce as the money goes straight to them!

What about the Newcastle Farmers Markets you say? Well… personally i’ve been finding it harder than it should be to locate locally grown produce that hasn’t come from further than 50km away.
Some producers are within the local area but in total very few, while many are still just vending the same product that is sold at supermarkets. This can make it difficult to find product that is genuinely embodying the qualities of local, affordable, if not organic, when relying on the word of a vendor only. Perhaps this needs to be left to some sort of screening process for who participates in a given market event?

However, at the Newcastle Farmers Market there are at least a couple of vendors you can be 100% certain are selling very locally produced goods;

There are some nearby avenues through which you can more easily access locally produced foodstuffs that are definitely worth mentioning.

  • A store called Local Crop on Hunter street which specialises in produce as locally sourced as possible and are open throughout week AND weekend days.
  • Bean Stalk Co-op is a cooperative you can sign up for, through which you can organise weekly boxes of mixed vegetables, and other bits and pieces on the side. Pickup Church St Mayfield on Tuesday evenings.
  • Newcastle also has a Food Collective which allows you to order online which options to collect from 50 Clyde St Hamilton North, drive-through or have delivered.

Aaaaaand finally, I know it isn’t for everyone and i’m definitely biased, but growing what you can where you live is the very best way to obtain at least some of your food for yourself and family. You also access the plethora of other benefits that having a garden can afford you and your community.

Good luck finding someone selling edible flowers at a shop or stall.

4 thoughts on “The importance of sourcing food locally and where the ‘Newcastle Farmers Markets’ can fall a bit short.”

  1. Well I’d have to say after reading your dribble your rubbish that you do not know what you are talking about. And this is the problem with idiot outsiders, like you, that think you know something of how Newcastle City Farmers Market operates. A disgraceful article. I also note two place that actually get their product from the farmers market….Local Crop and the Food Collective. It is not without luck that they started their business from Newcastle City Farmers Market. But you wouldn’t know that. But you can get on your little soap box and a crack at the Farmers Market. What a display of ignorance on your part.
    Kevin Eade
    NSW Farmers Market

    1. Wow Kevin Eade! Interesting that your response to some discussion and intentionally thought-provoking posting is angry and violent despite there being nothing actually dissuading people from going to and using your Farmers Market. I simply pointed out some guaranteed local producers/vendors, some of which were still present at you market at time of writing.
      I realise you feel I was trying to threaten your business, however my aim is simply to have people talk to the producers of their food rather than unthinkingly accept that EVERYTHING is what it seems at such an event. I speak from experience at your market.
      I am a firm believer in Farmers Markets and am personally glad it exists.
      Maybe next time you can bring your calm point of view and take the opportunity to spruke the good things rather than to be generally insulting.

      1. Thank you for bringing calm and considerate dialogue to a conversation that may have been misinterpreted. Certainly, provocation can be a purposeful rhetorical device and in my opinion, there was an eloquence in how provocation was used in your article to explore the topic with critical thinking. However, it appears the subtleties were overlooked in the rebuke. Perhaps, there was an opportunity for a Kevin Eade to explore a broader and richer discussion.

        Within our great democracy, it is definitely refreshing to engage critical thinking and along with that open dialogue. I found your expression refreshing (although I did spot a few spelling faux pas – always a point to improve upon). However, I thought your argument was well-posited. And you did provide a free plug for vendors at NSW Farmers Markets. From my point of view, I can see you were aiming to provide a balanced and objective viewpoint. I definitely support the ‘grow your own where you can’ concept. Thank you both for an interesting discussion .

  2. I’ve seen many edible flowers at stalls: including Pineapple Sage, Climbing Spinach, Toothache plant and Zucchini flowers. Often times we forget/overlook the fact a large majority of flowers are edible. The downside is eating the flowers is generally less sustainable as the fruit/veg can provide us more nourishment or a greater yield. Many Flowers contain concentrated amounts of nutrients that can be beneficial for an immune boost and in some cases provide more than the fruit/vegetables. We should encourage the responsible sale and growth of edible flowers. All the best.

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