Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Where does your food come from?

I don't know whether it is working for the farm and all the fresh vegetables I can get my hands on there but I thought to myself the other day "why have I never wondered where my food comes from?". Even before I came to Australia I had heard about how good South Australia's produce is and after working at the farm I now have a huge respect for what goes into producing market fresh goods. So I thought I would share a few points on what goes on behind the scenes in farming and a few facts about the produce to give you a better idea. 

It takes a team to make a farm great.
At the farm I am currently working on Brenda and Al have a team of Wwoofers (5 of us), 2 daughters that help and 2 full time employees to help them with the day to day running of the farm. They prefer not to use too many chemicals so weeding is done by hand and can take several hours just to do a small plot. Then you have to add in fertilising, picking, packing, building maintainence, feeding the animals, planting new crops, laying new water lines for the crops and about a million more jobs just to run the farm before you can even consider all the work to be done for the markets. This is done over 7 days a week with the farmers themselves working long hours to get all the work done before you even account into it the helpers.

Produce with marks are still edible. 
Supermarkets will only stock unblemished produce of a certain size because aestetics of a piece of fruit or veg is what makes it sell. However at a farmers market you will probably find that there are a few marks on the item and that it still tastes better than what you get at the supermarkets. Unblemished goods are sold as 'premium' goods but even the 'rejects' with splits in the top (from tomatoes trying to abosorb too much water) or marks from the leaves can still be eaten and taste just as good at the premium product.

Produce from farms will be fresher than from the supermarket.
The advantage to farm work and backpacking is when you get talking to others working toward their second year visas you find out what it is like to work in other farms and packing jobs. On one such occasion i was speaking to someone who packed for a supermarket and she told me it can be stored and shipped for up to 8 weeks before it hits the shelves. Where as produce from your local farmers market is fresher with having only been picked a day or two prior to the market and stored in large chillers on the farm.

It is now crazy to me that I have never considered this before and I now feel I have huge respect for the farming community for all they go through just to give others fresh food. Hopefully this post will make you think twice before you look away from farmers markets again because now, to me, not only is the atmosphere better but the food is too.

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