Last Thursday 27th, I paid $55 for a tomato, a bunch of grapes and an irritating political speech – talk about being ripped off.

The former were the vegetarian options for breakfast; the latter was a speech by Federal Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to the Rural Press Club about the developments in our National Food Pan (NFP).

There’s one quote I lifted from the NFP which really grates me to my bones…

“While Australia’s food supply is considered secure it, like all other counties, is not self-sufficient (no country is)”.

It frustrates me because Australia currently produces enough food to feed 60 million people. We have a fantastic climate here to produce everything we need, abundant infrastructure and resources to grow food. However we’re so wrapped up in the ‘import-export’ game we only produce select crops for the global market rather than a diverse range of foods for our local communities.

As far as I’m concerned, rule number one when growing food is look after yourself, family and community first then share/sell the surplus produce to the broader community; not the other way round.

The whole process for the NFP has been fairly flawed as the working group behind it has repeatedly refused to make the workings of their industry-dominated group transparent. This feeds the growing concern that the main purpose of the NFP is to make the food industry more ‘competitive and productive’, rather than on establishing a food system for all Australians that is ethical, sustainable and resilient. 

But there will be another chance for input into the NFP by the Australian community. The ‘Green Paper’ will be launched soon (no date set yet) which ‘will outline the government’s vision and approach to food policy and canvas potential changes to policy, programs and governance arrangement’. So stay tuned!

There was one nice thing I took from that morning. I sat next to a friendly chap who ended up being the CEO of the National Farmers Federation. We had a happy conversation about the importance of city farming and the connections that need to be established between urban and rural communities to allow this to happen.

Even amongst bad food and bad politics little rays of hope can shine through.