Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It describes how the coming burden to be placed on arable land will come from increased livestock farming and the farming of crops to be used as bio-fuels. This is perceived to begin placing a huge impact of meeting the food needs of Australians.

These are only two pressures amongst what I see as a whole gambit of pressures that will inevitably put a burden on how our food is produced, how much, how far it will travel and what it will cost. I can tell you now for free - what nutritional value it has is not likely to even enter the equation.

There are some nice suggestions at the beginning of the article such as using your kitchen scraps to make compost and raising chickens for eggs or growing herbs in pots.

My suggestion is begin TODAY. For a society that is not used to creating its own food there is a steep learning curve for many people. I will not deny that even a couple of pots of herbs won't make an impact - but wouldn't you rather supply most of your needs?

Again, it comes back to an earlier post I did regarding an overhaul of our diets and our real food requirements. We have challenges ahead, but I see them as being the beginnings of vast improvements in our lives and the world if we stop looking at them as impending catastrophes. Yes, articles like this help to show that change is on its way. What are YOU going to do about it?


It's that time of the year when the Tamarilloes lift the corners of the garden with their bright, ripening fruit. This year they seemed to begin to ripen earlier and have nearly all ripened at once. We've also had some magnificently sunny days for the last few weeks and this has helped with ripening too.

You can also see how well the sugar cane has done this year. It has really established itself well. I also had Yacon in this area but it did not do so well so have transplanted it into the larger garden bed for the winter in the hope it will at least set more tubers.

Tumeric & Ginger

The Tumeric & Ginger that I began to grow about 3 months ago were doing so well I had to re-pot them. I was surprised to find that the ginger rhizome had swollen considerably and had become almost green again as opposed to shriveling away.

Same as for the Tumeric which is growing much faster. Both are in black pots now with richer soil and kept on the deck where they are sheltered and receive indirect warmth and light from the sun for the majority of the day.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I thought I would do a post on my observations in the garden yesterday.

It started with a somewhat disgruntled decision to purchase some compost for putting on the back garden bed so that I could at least plant some winter plants in something other than the sandy soil which I am hoping to transform into rich, vital soil.

So, after a quick trip to the landscape supply place I had a truck load of the stuff delivered within the hour and in a steaming pile on the driveway.

Gradually I shoveled and barrowed and bucketed the stuff into the back bed and made the following observations.

All the toil I am putting into my garden is in such extreme comparison to many of the adjoining neighbour's gardens. For example:

On one side of our property is a rental property. The last tenants were barely there and in the last few weeks of summer someone kept turning up during the week to put a sprinkler on the back lawn. On one of these occasions I went and turned the sprinkler off as it had been on for hours and it was pretty clear that whoever was calling in to mind it had obviously forgotten about it. Needless to say, it had a good soak that evening. So it's a back lawn that nobody uses and nobody even sees or appreciates except for possibly the lawn mower man who turns up every few weeks for 10 mins, mows it and sends the bill. Thanks for coming. So there is a somewhat 'green' lawn sitting there.

As opposed to the other neighbour who also has a lawn but rarely uses it apart from a trip to the clothes line. There is at least some logic here as they don't water it, so it's dead. But like all lawn it will come back in winter and then will need mowing. It gives the dog something to poo on. I am still intrigued by the fact that despite spending any time in the garden they took it upon themselves to rid their side of the fence of the native wisteria leaving a huge pile of dead litter in their backyard which is still sitting there some weeks later. It's also left the wisteria on our side of the fence looking worse for wear as more of it has died back after the treatment.Come July it will be full of delicate white flowers which look just stunning amongst the grey of winter skies. It wasn't particularly doing anything too obscene or destructive. Not for a garden that doesn't really have anything else in it except dead grass and a few native bushes. So it remains a mystery...

Whilst our other adjoining neighbours are renting and have the odd vegetables growing and probably are doing the very best they can given time and rental circumstances.

Across the road we have another rental with dead lawn, stray cats and a very disgruntled looking tenant who smokes regularly out the front - and I can often smell the cigarette smoke when the wind blows our way. I would put money on there being dead lawn out the back.

So, there I was, toiling in the humidity of the day, shoveling a mix of pig poo and chicken poo and other things that no longer looked like they used to look. . . . but at the end of the day when I looked at the days work I was glad for my efforts. I had a garden that looked neater and that I would be able to plant a few winter crops into. Plus, the addition of the manures would help speed up all the other stuff I had layered up underneath the beds which with a bit of rain and the magic of microbes and compost worms, will be a fantastic soil come spring. Well, that is the goal anyway.

Other areas of the garden are looking dry and sad right now. I have stripped a side bed of it's sand and left a base of gravelly, rocky dirt. The challenge there is to build up a rich soil from the base up, but I won't be buying any soil for that garden. It will be a work in progress in my little paradise amidst the dead, near dead and soul-less backyards surrounding us.

As 'empty' as it looks now with the gardens bare, the trellis stripped of the passionfruit (it needed fixing and the passionfruit was not doing that well so I replaced it with a Panama Gold) and the rows of tubs sitting with seedlings just coming up, in a couple of weeks it will be lush again I am sure and standing still in stark contrast to those backyards surrounding it. Not to say it doesn't really already with the tamarilloEs dripping with red fruits just hanging there in the autumn afternoon sun and the odd scurrying guinea pig amongst the pot plants ...

Does anyone else out there have an oasis in the desert?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Who is accountable for my food? I AM.

I had a thought in the garden the other day. I was musing about growing edible plants and why I was bothering. What is driving me to do it? Almost instantly I had a somewhat satisfactory answer leap across my mind.


I am responsible for my food on so many levels. Where I get it, how it comes to me, what it is, how I consume it and the ways in which it is nurtured and produced - to suggest a few. Firstly, let me make the context clear. I don't mean 'responsible' as in "I am better than someone else because I am doing what I think is right, and to hell with the rest of you...." kind of responsible - which is what I think a lot of people tag responsibility as these days. I mean taking accountability for your own food. The food YOU use to nourish and support YOUR body.

For probably 95% of my consuming life thus far, if not more, I have largely given the responsibility of raising and producing my food to someone else - and most of that is indirectly. The farmers, the slaughterhouses, the flour mills, the market gardeners, the chicken and egg farmers, the meat industry, the potato board, the cardboard and plastic manufacturers, the miners and fuel producers, the transport companies, the distribution networkers, the supermarket chains, the independent couriers, the water authority, the deep sea fishermen, the south-east asia fish farmers, the Californian citrus growers, the Turkish date growers, Japanese seaweed suppliers ....

With my money, I have paid others to take on supplying my mouth with the food that passes through it. Some of this has been worth the money paid. It has enabled me to do many things and to have access to many other food sources that I would probably otherwise have very limited access to.

Recently though, I have become somewhat despondent. Not just about the strength of my money (which is another topic altogether), but about the quality of the produce it can purchase and the spin-offs it can have.

A case in point. For those that are not already aware I will save myself the typing and post an excerpt from a well known Australian brand. This is the website for Angas Park.

And this is the excerpt from their website that I would like to bring your attention to. It refers to the Manassen Foods Group which is an umbrella company for the following brands.


Margaret River Dairy Company
Sunbeam Foods
Chrystal Fresh
Angas Park
Don Vica

On 30th November 2011 Manassen Foods Group was acquired by Bright Foods Group Holdings Pty Ltd, which is 75% owned by Bright Foods of China, one of China’s largest food companies.  Given the recency of the transaction, some Manassen Foods Group products and brands still carry an “Australian Owned” label.

Manassen is now working hard to remove and update all labeling, packaging and other material including signage that may still carry the Australian Owned claim.

The company has made every effort to limit exposure to such references before the transaction was concluded and confirms there has been no change to such things as the procurement, processing and packing or otherwise of these products.

Make of this what you wish. For me it means another loss to Australia. I am not privy to the pressures of business on a local scale or with what I suspect are the monetary enticements from global industry that is forever looking at what acquisitions it can make - but for my mind, for what it is worth it means someone has made the decision to sell out. On themselves and their country - and their industry. I hope I am wrong. I may never know.

This is not a one off case. There are others happening as we speak which have also left me with the same thoughts that someone has taken the convenient approach to 'bow out' rather than to see themselves as an important part of the big picture for industry in this country.

So, my approach is changing, because I am tired of this money driven madness and cost cutting business system. I am taking my accountability for my food and transferring it from money-based to personal-based. By this I mean, I am making it personal and I am growing as much of my own food as possible.

Two years ago this occurred to me as quite radical and somewhat not totally achievable. I no longer think it is radical.  I don't even think radical is the term to even use here. To me it is necessary. Realistically, I don't know to what extent this is even possible with my garden, but then, that was before I looked at it a different way.

It's not the growing of anything that is difficult. It isn't even hard for others to be inspired to grow food in their own gardens. All of this is ENTIRELY achievable because that is what our great grandparents and great, great grandparents and further did. They grew their own food.

What I think needs to change is the FOOD we CHOOSE to put into our MOUTHS.

I have seen close family members end their lives short because of what they chose to put in their mouths. It is hard to see this and I've had my own battles between KNOWING and DOING. Sometimes there seems to be a vast void that exists between those two verbs.

So I am really starting to notice the food I choose. I want to make it as simple as possible. I want to have my food choices make a positive impact to whatever extent they may - but in a positive way nonetheless. I want to know that I don't have to worry about deciphering ingredients and keeping up with the latest food processing methods to make sure I'm not jeopardising my health or that of my families. I'm tired of watching people eating to exist and of having to make do with feeling crap the majority of the time because of what they pick up and put in. I am not expecting this to change, but I figure that I can make things pretty much as simple and healthy and easy as possible and that is by making sure I have a garden of fresh greens, leafy salad plants and a mix of fruit and vegetables. I have to make it easy, otherwise it just doesn't happen for any length of time.

So my accountability for my food is shifting from having someone else do it for me, to me doing it myself. To the very best of my ability and to the upmost extent that I can. Something that I am aware is not, I may say, without challenges, but highly rewarding in so many ways that are not all that instantly recognisable. Although I do have thoughts about the potential of one particular part of this kind of responsibility and I fully accept the consequences of my actions, because it will occur either with my input or without...

I want to have the biggest impact I think making a decision like this can have. To define the future food choices of my young son.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reducing Pollution

I've had a bit of time to look at things from a new perception recently and I realise that there is a lot of pollution around us.

I am fortunate enough to live in a house without a television. It's not the first time and I have to admit that I really do not miss it at all. I'm sure it's just me, but when I see what is on TV, it really is something I could live without. It is only after having lived without a TV for some time that I have come to appreciate it. I get odd looks from people when I say that I haven't seen a TV advert that's been running for months because " I don't have a TV". My wife said the look on the door to door sales guy face was priceless when she told him we don't want Foxtel because we don't have a TV. It was almost too hard for him to take and I'm sure he thought we were just using it as an excuse not to get Foxtel.With the US elections on at the moment, what better time also to be without the box.

Even the internet - which I use regularly - I find is streaming with garbage. When researching on the internet you really have to have your wits about you. There appears to be so much false data, emotional opinions that can sway your own opinions, dodgy statistics and bad referencing - or no referencing at all! It pays to be objective and when I find a good source of information I favourite it. In this way I can save time fishing for stuff amongst the muddy media.

We've been eating a lot more fresh stuff at home now either from the garden directly, farmers market or local shop and it's amazing how this alone can cut down on packaging and waste. If you were to think about it, it isn't difficult to see the difference. How much packaging does an apple use as opposed to tinned, boxed, wrapped products that are on the shelves. A simple bag for the apples can either be re-used, recycled  or re-designed for another purpose. The other thing we've noticed is that the left overs from most of our meals are usually food for the guinea pigs, chickens, compost bin or the worm farms. It's not uncommon for us to have a near empty bin to put out for collection and we've had weeks where we haven't even put the bin out at all.

I quite often listen to Classic FM nowadays, simply because it's pleasant background music, there is little talking and no commercials. The waffle, dribble and verbal noise that comes from many of the commercial stations I've ever had the displeasure of listening too just turned me away. Not to mention the usually dire and trivial content of the 'conversations'.

Life is full of projects and things to do that I am perplexed that others even have the time to watch TV. It quite often has me stumped. It is amazing the peace of mind that such pollution reduction can induce.