Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

I’m buying from Aussie farmers

Most of us take it for granted that we can nip to the corner store or drive to the supermarket and do the weekly shop, normally in less time than it takes to watch the nightly news (unless you’re trying to park at Woolworths Balmain, in which case set the recorder and settle in for a long wait.)

SONY DSCBut where does that food come from? If we’re lucky it comes from Australian farmers, most of whom live a long way from the nearest corner store; if we’re unlucky it comes from overseas. Recent reports about contaminated frozen berries reveal a staggering lack of quality control over the import of foods into Australia.

There was a time in England – where I grew up – when most people grew their own food. During the war, and in the years of rationing that followed, people dug up their front gardens and replaced the paving stones and roses with fruit and veg.

Some of that’s coming back. I’ve passed front gardens planted with tomatoes here in Balmain; there are tours of ‘edible streets’ in some Australian cities (there’s even a google map to show you the exact location); community gardens have sprung up and farmers’ markets are flourishing.

Of course, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the amount of food we buy from supermarkets, where pork from China can be packaged in New Zealand and brazenly labelled ‘imported from New Zealand.’

I love a bargain as much as the next person – the legacy of parents who grew up in the war years and who knew the meaning of food shortages and who learnt to scrimp and save – but when I scour the shelves for cut-price joints of meat I rarely think about the farmers who live hundreds of kilometres from the nearest supermarket, and whose lives are governed by weather events entirely out of their control. At least I didn’t think about them until I embarked on my latest project – Australian Farming Families, due to be released in early May.

Aus Farming Families summary image

The point I want to make is that there are better ways of finding a bargain. The Conscious Farmer delivers grass fed beef that’s been raised on chemical free pastures, in two-person packs as small as 10kg, to pretty much anywhere in New South Wales.

I’ve just ordered an eighth of a cow with all the most popular cuts (don’t ask me what though, regular readers of this blog will know I’m a vegetarian so it all gets a bit hazy when it comes to the back end of a cow – or the front end for that matter. I rely on Clyde the Carnivore to spot the difference between a T-bone and a rump steak.) Our small chest freezer is plenty big enough to take all that pre-packaged meat and it will cost far less than it would from a supermarket. Most importantly, I know exactly where that meat came from.

There are plenty of other farmers throughout Australia who are willing to deliver locally, or further afield, and when it comes to berries right now I can buy a kilo of fresh blueberries for $20 at Orange Grove market. A kilo!


From now on I’m shopping at farmers’ markets and direct from suppliers whenever I can, and I’m doing my own little bit with a fig tree planted down the sunny side of the house, a plum tree at the front and lemon, lime and grapefruit at the back. (Typing that last sentence made me smile, I grew up at number 1 Sunnyside).

I’ve pledged to buy as much Australian produce as I can, direct from Australian farmers and growers.


11 comments on “I’m buying from Aussie farmers

  1. bkpyett
    February 27, 2015

    Deb, enjoyed your post and we are likewise trying to buy Australian to supplement what we grow. 🙂


  2. monsoonwendy
    February 27, 2015

    Deb, great post! have you read Barbara Kingsolver’s wonderful book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about her year of eating local. Terrifically inspiring! Link here:


  3. wendylockyer
    February 27, 2015

    Farm Shops and Farmers Markets are brilliant places! Real veg with all it’s lumps, bumps and odd shapes that tastes so much better than the pre packed, sized and washed stuff 🙂


  4. candidkay
    February 27, 2015

    I agree! Our food was not meant to travel the way it does. Fresh is best . . . and hopefully, that also means chemical-free.


  5. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    March 2, 2015

    Fresh, local and chemical-free – you can’t ask for better than that Kay


  6. EmilyS
    March 2, 2015

    Deb. I think it’s interesting that the publishers are using a similar format for the cover of this book as they did for your other book… are the cover pictures from location (real family and place from the book) or sourced from a generic file? Just curious. Hoping all is going well.


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      March 2, 2015

      Hi Emily, yes publisher thought it was a good idea to link the two covers, I think they’ve done another gorgeous job. We decided not to use a shot of one of the families featured – hard to pick one over the rest of them – so they went for a generic shot of a real family, just not one featured in the book. I’m very excited about the picture spread in the middle, there are some cracking shots and you particularly will love them!! Hope life in the Hill is good and hope to see you soon. How’s that PhD going?


      • EmilyS
        March 3, 2015

        Looking forward to seeing it. Ticking along in the hill, a few changes which make life interesting – people coming and going. The PhD will be submitted at the end of the month! Until next time.


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This entry was posted on February 27, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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