Some of us might remember a time not so long ago nothing was ever wasted; food was a treasured and valuable resource. A loaf of bread wasn’t cheap, so every slice would be used and relished, stale edges used in leftover dishes like bread and butter pudding or flapjacks. If something wasn’t eaten it would be placed in the compost or fed to the chooks.
Being a frugavore is a hark back to this time – a love song to our most valuable resource – the food we eat and the land that we use to grow it on.
People say that good food is too expensive to live on, but I beg to differ. If you shop wisely, look for food that it’s in season and connect directly to the source of your food, you’ll find that you end up spending less and what you do spend will be put back directly into your local food economy. What’s more, if you adopt the mentality of your parents and waste less with what you’ve got, you’ll find that your resources can stretch that little bit further too.
Grow Your Own:
Make the most of the space you have available to grow edible plants. It might be a front lawn that you pull up to plant a vegie patch, or a nature-strip that you redesign to grow herbs and edible weeds.
We are living in an age of profligacy where a large proportion of our food is thrown out and discarded into landfill. On average, 200kg of food per person is wasted each year in Australia. To make matters worse, in landfill this food decomposes and produces methane – a gas 25 times as damaging to the environment as carbon dioxide.
This situation can easily be reversed into a positive one – by simply wasting less food, and recycling food scraps back into our eco system with compost bins, worm farms or a couple of chooks. This will reduce the burden on our landfill sites, produce less methane gas and make our vegetable patches all that more fertile!
Local food systems can be developed and supported through direct relationships with farmers and growers. For an inner-city dweller, this might involve shopping at a farmers market, a locally-run food store or even starting your own buying club.
The benefit of these grass-root systems is that the direct relationships foster a greater understanding of our food, where it comes from, how it’s grown and its unique nutritional merit.
It also opens up the floodgates for a greater variety and biodiversity within our food supply. When was the last time that you enjoyed a purple heirloom carrot or succulent, and sweet alpine strawberry? These types of produce are not usually favoured by our large-scale industrial food system. They can only be grown by small-scale farmers with short transport times. They are also seasonally-dependant and best eaten fresh.
The joy of buying locally is that it opens up opportunities – for both farmers and consumers, and also comes with a smaller carbon footprint due to the reduced food miles.
Saving money on food is not about buying nutrient-empty, long-shelf-life products. It’s about buying the food that’s the best value for money – it might be a locally-sourced free-range egg supplier that you find at the local market, or a farmer that grows pasture-raised beef or lamb and will give you a discount for buying in bulk. You might also come across and organic co-op that supplies sustainably-farmed beans and pulses that you can prepare at home, for a fraction of the cost.
There has been a great trend toward ‘cheap’ and ‘fast’ food from our large supermarket chains. But these foods that are ‘cheap’ actually come at a price – it might be the farmer that pays (by getting less for his product), or the environment that pays (with the use of chemical fertilizers), or it might even be you that pays – a nutrient-empty diet will ultimately lead to poor health and more medical bills.
So instead of looking for ‘cheap’ food, it’s best to look for nutrient-dense, whole foods, that are sourced locally, and where possible, sourced direct from the producer or supplier. For these products you will pay the real price, without any intervention from a middle man or corporate entity.
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All illustrations on this website are (C) Genna Campton, visit www.gennacampton.com