Sunday, July 30, 2006

sustainability

Part of what made it such a great holiday was some of the conversations we had including touching on something that has become somewhat of a serial conversation for me with several people on sustainability.

Moving to the other side of the world changes a lot of perspectives - what is 'local' for a start! Being so isolated geographically here (it's a 3hr flight just to Australia) it means anything that isn't produced in country has come a long way which isn't so great environmentally. I've tried for some years to keep an eye on my 'food miles' (thanks to an NYFSG talk - not sure how much the young people took in but I know a few of us staff changed our shopping habits!) - ie how far food has travelled to get to your kitchen cupboards and the economical and environmental impacts of such purchasing. What was local in Edinburgh (like Isle of Bute dairy free cheeses) now have to be shipped half way around the world for me to buy them here - not good. Even the Aussie ones have come a fair distance and lets face it they don't taste as good, so apart from the occassional UK block of dairy free cheese as a treat I now tend to eat far more organic, locally produced goats & sheeps cheese instead - even though when in Scotland I was becoming increasingly vegan. I also eat far more eggs here as they too have travelled far less distance than other protien options available to me. I'm discovering more and more NZ grown lentils, split peas etc though which is a vast improvement on them coming in from Turkey!

It's not as easy being vegetarian here as it is in Britain, lots of stuff is still cooked in beef fat and you still find it in biscuits and things like oven chips, hash browns etc. Pastry is often made with lard (not that I should be eating pastry anyway) and options are often more limited when eating out. It's not quite 70's Britain in terms of shopping even if it is in terms of public perception in many ways as large supermarkets do stock soymilk and tofu etc as well as a reasonable organics/wholefood/free from... sections. I know several former British vegetarians who having come here have gone back to eating meat/fish saying they'd rather eat good locally farmed meat/fish than yet another quiche which is probably made with lard, won't have vegetarian cheese in it and quite possibly has ham lurking at the bottom anyway. Of course it depends on where you chose to eat but generally works canteens have a long way to go yet!

Supporting local business/farmers, and not the multinationals makes a small nation economy more viable. Shipping goods in requires extra packaging, oil for transportation, added costs which result in either more expensive products on the shelves or poorer working conditions and wages at the point of origin. I can't see me personally ever moving over to eating meat or fish but as long as the farming methods are sustainable and not cruel I don't have a problem with others doing so. I was helping herd cows last week (after a fashion, and accompanied by a pukeko and a piwakawaka a fair bit of the way!) - yes they'll end up on someones plate but those cows are loved and whilst they weren't so happy about the knee deep mud at one point along the way they get a good life - not too many of them, plenty space and good grazing and farmers who care. I can cope with that.

3 comments:

Lovin' Life Liz said...

What an inspiring post about sustainability!!

Catherine said...

I enjoyed reading some of your blog, quakerism sounds interesting, I am a christian, go to a Vineyard church, sounds like quakers have good social conscious, something evangelicals lack quite often. God bless.

Anna Dunford said...

thanks both of you =)

Catherine, wikipedia has some good stuff about Quakerism if you want to find out more and there are a whole heap of other Quaker bloggers - www.quakerquaker.org has links to many of them.