decorating / homefront · kitchen capers · shopping / or not

From smug to mug – the food miles lurking in my minestrone

Being fifty-something, I should know better.

This morning I shared this photo on facebook, boasting about making minestrone.

That’s the smug part.

Once I had the minestrone makings in the slow cooker I sat down with a cuppa to read the Sunday paper.

This article led the front page. It relates the demise of the Aussie tomato growing and processing industry under competition from imports. It warns of worse to come – a possible degradation of our food processing industries, across the board. Scary stuff, given that our manufacturing industries are already headed down the toilet.

Ever curious, I fished in the recycle bin for the empty cans from the minestrone and discovered … horror.

The tomatoes had come from Italy. (17,888+ kilometres according to the Sunday Age.)

The tomato paste had come from China.

The kidney beans had come from … parts unknown (“Made from local and imported ingredients” read the can’s mysterious “disclosure”).

Oh, feck. That’s the mug part. I am the not-so-smug mug.

I like to imagine I’m savvy with the concept of food miles and conscious of it when I’m shopping.

Fact is, when faced with a great price on the supermarket shelf, I seem to forget all about the food miles issue and don’t even check where the product was sourced.

I can’t even say (categorically) that if I had checked, I would have turned down the cheaper import in favour of a more expensive domestic product. It’s a hard call.

More feck.

I’ve got no smart ideas on how to resolve this. The logical part of my brain tells me to reduce food miles at any cost. My miserly-trying-to-save-a-buck self rejects the cost of doing so.

I am on the horns of an ethical/economical dilemma. And it’s painful.

Any smart ideas?

I could grow my own fresh produce, but that won’t cover all bases. Very few.

I’m thinking perhaps a compromise along the 80/20 principle. What if I can plan on 80% domestic food and 20% imported? Or possibly some other ratio?

Let us know how you manage/don’t manage the food mile quandary. All suggestions/comments welcome.

Kermit was right: it’s not easy being green.

2 thoughts on “From smug to mug – the food miles lurking in my minestrone

  1. I have trained myself to modify my favourite recipes to embrace local ingredients rather than relying on imports; and focus on fresh, local ingredients cooked seasonally. I enjoy the satisfaction of cooking local foods. I support local employment and have discovered there is great flow-on value in the extra money I spend with smaller, locally-focussed retailers. I don’t get the same value or personal satisfaction from spending money in stores controlled by multinationals answering to faceless investors.

    1. Thanks, reluctant. I can see that’s part of the balance … shopping locally and understanding all that flows on from that can be much more satisfying (and longterm) than the quick-fix thrill of a special. Keep up the good work! S.

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