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Food sustainability in Chippendale

Since August, Chippendale residents and businesses have been buying their fruit and vegetables direct from farms within 100km of Sydney. On Saturday October 11, they will showcase their environmentally friendly approach at the Food for the Future sustainable food fair reports Alex Mackenzie in the South Sydney Herald of October 2008.

Most of us have no idea of the true cost of the food we eat. Growing, producing, and buying food consumes more than 40 per cent of our resources. A large part of this cost is from transport – the average basket of food in Australia has travelled more than 23,000km before reaching your kitchen.

Fair organiser and sustainability expert Michael Mobbs believes that by linking local producers and consumers directly, and bypassing Coles and Woolworths, we can enhance the freshness of our food, cut fuel costs, and dramatically reduce our environmental impact.

Not to mention saving ourselves some money. Mr Mobbs has found that a $25 food box from local farmers would cost $52.90 at Coles, more than double the price. “One of the fastest growing costs for the average householder is food, because food has the cost of oil embodied in it. Oil is used to grow it and transport it.” He hopes that the fair will prove that buying food locally makes sense economically as well as environmentally.

As well as buying food from local farmers, Chippendale residents are growing their own. Fruit trees grow along Myrtle Street, and nature strips have been converted to veggie patches. On the day of the fair, residents will plant more fruit trees and plants donated by Sydney City Council. Farmers and producers from the Hawkesbury Basin will be selling their wares from the back of trucks, and stalls will be displaying all kinds of local produce.

Mr Mobbs spent years making his Chippendale house sustainable. It produces its own power and water, and reuses its sewage on site. But the effects of this are “trivial”, he says, in comparison with food sustainability. “With the fruit trees we have planted in my street, vegetables we grow in the nature strip out the front of our houses, and by buying our fruit and veggies straight from local farmers, Chippendale has begun to truly sustain itself and the planet.” He hopes other suburbs will follow the example.

Food for the Future will take place at Peace Park, Myrtle and Pine Streets, Chippendale, on October 11, from 10 am – 4 pm.

Photo: Alex Mackenzie - Caption: Michael Mobbs

Source: South Sydney Herald October 2008