A short movie about finding good food in an era of convenience
Follow the journey of a tomato through the industrial food system to the supermarket shelves. Find out why local food alternatives are a good thing, and how easy it can be to find good food close to you. More about the facts behind the video below.
Presenter: Arabella Forge – Nutritionalist, Frugavore and Mum.
Direction, Edit & Animation: Chris Grose (scoutfilms.com.au), DOP: Greg Blake, Camera Assist: Steph Boyle, Script: Tom Maclachlan, Additional Graphics & Life Support: Heidi Lee. Thanks to: Nick Ray, Arabella Forge, Cassie Duncan, Kate Anderson, Adrian Richardson, CERES Environment Park and The Marlowes. Music: Burgundy Reel by Father Sleep (Creative Commons license) and Pastel Slide (Apple music library).
A little local knowledge – unpacking the facts…
To you and me, good food is the basis for a healthy life. But we live in an era of convenience. And when we demand convenience, something happens to our food.
Look at the tomato sitting on the shelf there. It looks fresh and healthy. But truth be told, that is one tired, worn-out little tomato. Because the system that rushes to get this guy to the shelf is, well, complicated.
The great journey begins a long way away – before the tomato is even grown.
Barrels and barrels of oil come from all over the world to help produce this tomato.
The oil is needed for packing and shipping. And it’s also used to fertilise the soil.
The tomato is then subjected to regular fungicide sprays while it grows.
Then when it’s still green and crunchy, it’s picked from the plant, to prolong it’s life on the shelf. Later it will be sprayed with ethylene to make sure it goes red.
The farmer knows this is not ideal, but he has no choice – he has a contract with the supermarket, and that puts him in a big rush. It’s not a great contract either. When that tomato is sold, the farmer will get as little as 14 cents to the dollar. The middlemen will get the rest.
The tomato then gets thrown into a truck to travel vast distances.
It then sits in cold storage, where it gradually loses some of its nutritional value.
Finally, weeks after it has been picked, the tomato is put on display. Shiny, red … lifeless.
In an era of convenience, a lot of people would argue that the supermarket is one of our greatest achievements. However, there’s a far more convenient way to feed ourselves and our families with real food. And all you need is a little bit of local knowledge.
Local Harvest is a new website about good food that’s close to you.
It’s a simple idea. You enter your postcode, and Local Harvest shows you where to find the best produce closest to you. It might be a local vegie box system, or a community garden, or a farmer’s market.
See this tomato?
Unlike the conventional tomato from the supermarket, this tomato was picked when it was ready to be picked. About 24 hours ago.
The farmer that picked it got most of the profits. And it didn’t have to sit in cold storage for extended periods, because it came from a farm close by.
So this tomato is locally grown, it’s fresh, full of nutrients and it keeps the profits local.
In Australia we’re really lucky because we have good quality food close by.
With every meal, we have the opportunity to support a different kind of food system – one that produces vibrant, healthy food with the wellbeing of people, animals and the land at heart.
And that’s what Local Harvest is about. It’s not a gimmick or a diet and there are no prizes. We’re about reclaiming our food choices and narrowing the degrees of separation between our food and us.
So, go to Local Harvest, type in your postcode and practice the art of eating locally, supporting local and organic farmers and businesses, and rediscover the life in your food.
Because food is life, and every dollar we spend is a vote for the type of food system we want.
More on Tomato production in Australia
>> May 27, 2012 The Sunday Age article – Canned: why local tomatoes cop a pasting.
Tomatoes are the second highest value annual crop after potatoes.
Tomatoes can be cultivated under cover in greenhouses or outside in orchards and can be consumed fresh, canned or used to produce sauces, juices, pastes or powder.
The tomato industry in Australia can be separated into two distinct sectors, those grown for use in processed foods and those grown for the fresh market. Victoria is the major producer for the processed market accounting for 86% of total production followed by New South Wales at 12% and small amounts in the other states. Queensland on the other hand produces the majority of tomatoes for the fresh market accounting for 55% while Victoria, New South Walesand Western Australia produced 20%, 12% and 5% respectively.
In 2005, less than 32 specialised processing tomato growers provided 99 % of the crop. Three factories process the bulk of the production. Two of these factories focus on tomato paste and derivative products and one specialises in peeled tomato products.
(sources: rirdc, anra, wptc)
Main players in Australia’s tomato industry
Heinz – In May 2011, Heinz announced it intended to close its factory in Girgarre (in New South Wales) and downsize its factories in Northgate (in Brisbane), and Wagga Wagga (in regional New South Wales), with a loss of more than 300 jobs. Heinz also has factories in Echuca and Mill Park, both in Victoria. (source)
Coca Cola Amatil – parent company of SPC Ardmona, announced in August 2011 that it will close the Mooroopna manufacturing plant, which mainly produces canned tomatoes and tomato paste, with production of packaged fruit and vegetables consolidated at its Shepparton and Kyabram factories. (source)
The Costa Group – one of the country’s largest distributors of fresh fruit and vegetables, has built, at a cost of $65 Million, Australia’s largest glasshouse tomato farm known as Blush Tomatoes. It is located at Guyra, near Armidale in northern NSW. (source)
d’VineRipe – in a joint-venture with Victor Smorgon Group and Perfection Freshhave a $30 million high-tech tomato glasshouse operation Spanning 17 hectares at Two Wells about 40km north of Adelaide in South Australia.
SP Exports – based in Childers, Queensland, grows a third of all fresh tomatoes eaten in Australia, sold mainly through Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. In March 2012, went into voluntary administration owing $31 million. Has heightened fears that it is becoming near-impossible for any local vegetable grower, regardless of size or skill, to turn a profit in an era of ever-smaller margins and a price war between the two supermarket giants. (source)
Kagome Foods Australia – Japanese food manufacturer, Kagome, bought the processing plant in Echuca in 2010, previously owned by Cedenco (source). Now Australia’s largest tomato processor, with around 200,000 tonnes of tomatoes processed each year in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley. It grows and harvests its own tomatoes and supplies a number of major domestic and international companies. In Jan 2014, the Victorian Government announced it will contribute to Kagome’s $21 million expansion plans (source).
More on the journey of an industrial tomato
From seed to slice – farm to pizza Tomato production in California (supplying almost all tomatoes in US)