A significant amount of the virtual water that makes up the water footprints of the food products we eat each day comes from importing food into Australia and distributing it across the country. Australia has a particularly high amount of domestically produced food products in its supermarkets making it easy for us to eat locally and seasonally. When we are not eating and shopping consciously, it is easy to rack up a huge amount of food miles traveled in just one shopping cart.

What does eating locally mean?

Eating locally means making it a priority to incorporate foods that have not moved long distances, typically within 160 km, from their point of origin to your local supermarket. Local eating has numerous environmental and societal benefits that make it a great option for environmentally and water conscious Australians. By eating locally grown produce and meat products, you are supporting farmers in your community and investing the money you spend back into the local economy. Additionally, the less distance your food needs to travel to reach your kitchen the less energy it requires and the less emissions it produces. This means a smaller carbon footprint and a smaller water footprint – two things that allow you to eat and cook with an easier conscience.

How do I make sure I’m choosing locally produced food?

Most supermarkets have the origin of the produce and meats they stock clearly labeled – make sure to look next time you're shopping and try to stock up on things grown or produced near your home. Additionally, it is important to stay aware of what fruits and vegetables are in season. A big, locally grown, summer strawberry is typically much tastier than one grown and imported in the winter during the fruit’s offseason – not to mention much less water intensive. By giving up some favourites when they are out of season we are able to appreciate them more when we have them. Australia’s Seasonal Food Guide has good information on which fruits and veggies are in season in your area.

What if I want to grow my own produce?

For many Australians, growing our own produce, whether in a small garden or as a hobby farmer, is an enjoyable and economically friendly way to eat locally. However, gardening, especially during times of drought or water scarcity, can be a major consumer around the home if you aren’t careful. Smart Approved WaterMark supports a number of products, including mulches, soil enhancers, and wetting agents, that can keep your home water efficient without sacrificing your garden or your fresh grown produce.

Eating locally around Australia

Food co-ops and farmers’ markets are a great way to ensure that your food is locally sourced. There are a huge number of farmers’ markets located all around Australia. Find your local farmer's market.

Written by Grace Foster, Research Manager

References

http://www.theage.com.au/ed_docs/food_miles.pdf

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