Robin and Paul Gale-Baker: Local Food Challenge

11th April, 2014 —   

We have loved the Local Food Challenge and decided to go a length extra and make it a gourmet week! 95% of our fruit and veg came from our garden with the rest from Mala, the Monty Swap and pears via Murundaka and plums from Warburton.

Our local butcher, Lee, has provided us with meat from Gippsland and a local fish shop with Port Philip Bay Snapper for a Moroccan tagine. Dairy has probably brought the most challenge in our purchasing with milk now coming from St┬áDavid’s Dairy in Fitzroy (purchased from Leo’s), cream from Bulla (Colac), Gippsland cheeses from Bundoora Farmers’ Market and superb ricotta, parmesan and pecorino from the Kylta Cheese factory in Kylta Road West Heidelberg. They also sell swiss cheese and mozzarella from Thomastown. We made our own yogurt with St David’s Dairy milk.

We bought a red from the Yarra Valley and made spiced red wine pears and other delights were rhubarb and custard ice cream, fresh strawberry ice cream and olive oil icecream. The latter used extra virgin cold pressed olive oil from Hildebrand Grove, the label of David and Ann Strutt, from Arthurs Creek. Sustainable Macleod bought 2 x 20 litre drums and we decanted this between about a dozen people.

The biggest challenge came from reading all that tiny print on dozens of labels. We were surprised to find that some really cheap items like cheap mineral water were trucked in from interstate. We’d assumed that cheap equated with local. Naive! Our 5% that we allowed for overseas items comprised spices and coffee, and the 10% beyond 200 km from Melbourne accounted for sugar from Queensland, peanuts and licorice from NSW but turned respectively into peanut butter in Mordialloc and liquorice straps somewhere local.

Without a doubt this week has refined our purchasing practices, created friendships and alliances with our local traders and supported many more local producers. We will continue this journey forevermore.

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Name: Robin and Paul Gale-Baker
Suburb: Macleod
State: VIC
Size: Feast-sized
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Robin and Paul Gale-Baker's Challenges

  • Don't use the supermarkets this week - shop at local independent grocers, butchers and delis
  • Shop at a farmers' market
  • Source local meat & cheeses
  • Buy cruelty free eggs (laid by happy chooks!)
  • Source free-range or organic meats
  • Harvest and eat food from your own garden
  • Eat (at least) 5 Servings of Local, Organic fruit & veggies per day
  • Cook with seasonal produce
  • Cook with local oils or grains
  • Sip on local milk or juice
  • Enjoy local beer or wine
  • Swap sugar for local honey (or stevia)
  • Go plastic-free packaging
  • Make yoghurt
  • Make your own ice-cream
  • Compost your kitchen scraps
  • Attend a local food swap
  • Start a herb box or mini-plot (can be single pot on the porch, or something more in the garden)
  • Find out more about and try food preserving - bottling, drying, freezing
  • Find out about Urban bee-keeping
  • Like Local harvest on facebook, or follow on Twitter
  • Join a relevant community network (such as a permaculture group, transition initative, seed savers network, slow food)
  • Read a relevant book
  • Volunteer at a farm, school garden or community garden
  • Ask your local cafe for their coffee grounds for your garden
  • Sign up and campaign against genetic engineered foods, with Geneethics, Madge or the True Foods Network
  • Ask your local grocer, deli or favourite cafe to include more local produce
  • Ask your representatives (councillors, state and federal parliamentarians) to support organic farming
  • Start a garden in your community or school (or nature strip)