Sunshine Coast called to support local food industry

 Sunshine Coast residents should spend more time and money to find regionally grown food and to save the local food industry, slow food advocates say.

The Sunshine Coast Council-promoted slow food sessions are held in libraries until the end of May.

The slow food movement calls for better access to good, clean and fair food in the fight against the fast food culture.

Twenty people are gathered at Kawana Library this morning to learn how to break the habit of shopping at big supermarkets and to support our local producers.

Slow food spokeswoman Julie Shelton says the food system is in crisis and people must be proactive to change it.

“I think customer demand would actually increase the availability and access to fresh food and it may be that people just have to change their buying habits where once a week they actually have to travel for a little distance to go and find really good food,” she says.

Ms Shelton, who’s been involved in slow food for 10 years, says she sometimes travels up to 50km in a week to find farmers’ markets and smaller grocery shops.

But Kawana retiree Barbara Allain says shopping in a big supermarket is usually the most convenient option.

“I go to Woolworths because I’m in one of the Stockland developments and it’s very isolated and life is very complex if you follow everything,” Ms Allain says. “To drive to IGA uses petrol and it’s not good for the planet.”

Ms Shelton says when people shop at Woolworths or Coles the money leaves the region which harms the local economy and risks the livelihood of the small producers.

She says the situation on the Sunshine Coast is heartbreaking as many farmers are struggling to stay on the land.

“We have big monoculture food production happening and as small producers have trouble competing, so we need to raise the awareness of the importance of local food so we can keep our local food producers,” Ms Shelton says.

“It’s breaking my heart seeing farmers who’ve taken care of the land for generations having to subsidise this and subsidise that.”

Sunshine Coast Council spokeswoman Vicki Blaxell says that to raise the profile of regional quality food the council launched the Seasons of the Sun brand in 2010.

The brand connects more than 500 local growers, producers and restaurants, and it’s hoping to increase people’s awareness of the unique variety of seasonal food available on the Sunshine Coast.

-By Kaisa Suomalainen

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