A bitter sweet day today, the 26th March 2016, as this was the very last weekly EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market in Wagga.
What great achievements this movement has brought to the Riverina since its establishment in February 2014. Within the first 12 months, more than $1million had been spent with the dozens of Growers and Makers of chemical and gmo-free foods which, in turn, was then spent in the 16 smaller towns from where they live.Costa Georgiadis
, Ambassador for the EAT LOCAL MOVEMENT weaved his magic at the launch and hundreds of people came to meet him and buy almost every skerick of produce there that day. Costa's profile and reputation is national and he continues to mention the EAT LOCAL MOVEMENT in his travels as an example of what can be achieved.
A chance conversation with Ian McNamara (Macca) from ABC radio's Australia All Over
program every Sunday resulted in Ian visiting EAT LOCAL THURSDAY. Macca talked about EAT LOCAL THURSDAY for weeks and interviewed many of the Traders with those interviews being progressively played for many weeks.
Last November, the production crew from River Cottage Australia spent almost a week touring the Riverina and their final day filming at EAT LOCAL THURSDAY farmers market. (This was a truly delightful day spent with host, Paul West, in the food van :-) River Cottage Australia is one of the most popular television programs in the country with a following in the millions. This series commenced at the end of March with two episodes dedicated to the Riverina road trip and many Wagga people enjoyed seeing themselves on the program enjoying the delicious foods Paul created from locally grown produce. It was a blast to have the crew at Springview Eco-Farm
learning about how we grow the sunshine-enriched Bush Goddess Paddock Pork and drawing yet more focus on the Riverina.
Stage ll of the EAT LOCAL MOVEMENT in the Riverina comes in the form of an online ethical foods store known as Riverina Providore
, being launched on the 1st June and operable from the 6th June. On-line shopping continues to increase in popularity and with this online ethical food store, much more produce and products from the wider Riverina can be included.
As always, the purpose of the EAT LOCAL MOVEMENT is to provide as many trading opportunities as possible for Growers and Makers so Eaters have convenient access to the best the Riverina has to offer, and the Traders have a reliable and regular cash-flow, and, the money spent remains in OUR region.
Thank you for being part of the first stage and welcome to the next phase - what a delicious thing to be part of!
Thank you to The Daily Advertiser's editor, Daniel Johns, for having the gumption to enable conversations around the economic leakage from Wagga via the 12 supermarkets
in the town. From the retail food sector alone, it is estimated there is around $265 million leaked every year and, when you include the turnovers from the 37 fast food chain brands (some with multiple outlets) plus the food service companies (Bidvest, PFD, Superior Food Services and Ferndale) the overall total could be closer to half a billion dollars leaving Wagga.
Why is this a concern?
The Riverina is regarded as the food bowl of Australia and, when you add up what is grown in this amazingly geographic and climatic diverse region, it's only marine seafood which is not grown here. Try finding branded produce from the Riverina in any supermarket, on pub and club menus, and in the 'stuff' served up in fast food chains. Around 99 per cent of all the food used in these sectors comes from elsewhere, whether Australia, or imported from overseas.
This is a concern as there is no trading within this region for the above sectors yet millions of dollars are spent on them every year. The majority of the spend goes straight out of town to corporate headquarters far, far away to provide quarterly profit figures for owners and / or shareholders. The important question to be asked, is - where is this money spent?
One dollar can provide an enriching experience when spent in the town where it originated. Tourism and Buy Local campaigns have researched that one dollar can be spent up to six times in the one town, thus resulting in exponential value instead of a face value.
Supermarkets in Australia dominate retail food sales with 80 per cent being divided between Coles and Woolworths, 19 per cent between Aldi and Metcash and the remaining one per cent to independent and locally owned food retailers including butchers, bakers, green grocers, and some delicatessens.
Where we choose to spend our money has immediate and long-term implications for food security, employment and career opportunities, the number of food-preneurs in a town, how much primary produce can be processed / transformed into ready-to-eat food, physical and economic access and actually providing a diversity of diet as defined by the United Nations.
Some call Wagga a $2-town with a mingy mentality but i don't believe that definition. Wagga is a wealthy town with a generous heart and soul but, sometimes being financially comfortable can lead to complacency and the 'it-can't-happen-to-me' belief system. Being adventurous and gritty about beliefs and habits takes energy and time; convenience is frequently cited as the reason why people shop at supermarkets. Not once have I ever heard anyone excitedly remark about the freshness of the apples, or the crunch of the celery but, still that is where the majority of people still buy their food....in heavy expensive packaging, originating from who-knows-where due to the feeble and ambiguous labelling and very few sustainability and environmental ticks.
Our alternative is to buy directly from the Growers and Makers from our immediate region and your buck ends up going four or five circles, not on a one-way journey to HQ in a capital city.
Come and meet our fabulous Growers and Makers each week at EAT LOCAL THURSDAY and enjoy feasting locally on the abundant, seasonal, chemical and gmo-free foods they bring every week. Know your buck is doing good with someone you actually know and care about. This is your food future.
The Verduci family bring a full range of seasonal vegetables.
The Quinty Bakehouse brings their popular organic sourdough breads and croissants
The Apple Shed apples, pears and cold pressed juices are always the best
Retief's organic wines include rose, Cabernet sauvignon and shiraz
Wiseman's Organics lentils and chickpeas are ideal for Indian cuisine, adding to hearty winter casseroles and vegetarian dishes
W2O olive oils has an extensive range of agrimato (flavoured) oils, table olives, plain evoo and divine hand made soaps
Hilltops Honey - flavoured honeys, furniture and leather conditioners, skin products, lip balm and many monofloral varieties of honey
Karrindee Blooms - the most beautiful and extensive range of native flowers and foliage you will ever see, grown 20kms from Wagga
Bush Goddess Paddock Pork - smoked sausages, fresh cuts, natural bacon, smoked hocks and snags.
Henty Free-Range eggs - from happy paddock chookies
Randall's Organic rice - many varieties
Walker's Whispering Pines organic flour
Bush Goddess desert dukkah and other condiments
<<WATCH THIS SPACE FOR A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT NEW TRADERS VERY SOON>>The vagaries of the weather
has become a significant factor in taking time to find the PERFECT location for EAT LOCAL THURSDAY so all our Traders and wonderful customers are safely and comfortably catered for. For those who are familiar with the beautiful Botanic Gardens in Tom Wood Drive, Turvey Park, there is one of Wagga's best-kept secrets there - Elements in the Garden
function centre and cafe. As well as the cafe filled with proper coffee and food from chef Adam McLean (whose cheffing pedigree is outstanding), there is an enclosed playground, the Wagga Council managed zoo, modern, clean lavatories, shaded outdoor seating and the easily accessible large car park. Adam and Linda are wonderful hosts and this is a great spot to visit any day of the week (except Mondays and Tuesdays which are their <well deserved> days off).
No matter what weather conditions come our way, this venue is safe and sound for everyone.
We are excited seeing all our fab foodies from 1130 each Thursday and please stay tuned to the Facebook
page for up-to-the-minute news :-) Thank you for your continued support and being part of this delicious local food movement.
P.S. On the 3rd May, did you see the episode of River Cottage Australia
featuring the road trip through the Riverina and culminating with Paul's food caravan at EAT LOCAL THURSDAY?