Insulating the Sunshine Coast from global food hikes
ENSURING a plentiful supply of cheap, farm-fresh food for Sunshine Coast residents in the face of global food price hikes is the primary motivation behind the innovative Growing Local Living Economies event at the University of the Sunshine Coast next Wednesday, May 28.
Founder of the Noosa and Maroochy Farmers Market Shane Stanley said the inspirational lectures and workshop at the USC innovations centre was part of the push to re-localise and boost food production.
"This is all about making the Sunshine Coast Australia's first food-independent region,'' Mr Stanley said.
"We'll be questioning why should food grown here needs to be trucked to the Brisbane market, purchased and trucked back here to be sold at an inflated price.''
"This is about creating a more sustainable food economy.''
Mr Stanley will be at the USC's innovation centre along with local farmers, food processors, retailers, politicians and consumers attending the day organised by the Ethos Foundation and supported by the Sunshine Coast Council.
All interested members of the public are invited to attend.
The inspirational lectures and workshop respond to concerns about global hikes in food prices, the effects of large supermarket chain monopolies and the push for a central regional food market.
"I personally want to see a central food market established here so farmers can sell their product directly to retailers and consumers,'' Mr Stanley said.
"This will go a long way towards cutting out food transport costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with food to the table.''
The event presents five speakers from 8.30am to 10.30am and a brainstorming Food Value Chain Workshop involving farmers, producers, retailers and government decision-makers in the 11am-5pm session.
Sunshine Coast Mayor Bob Abbot has committed to relocalising food production on the Sunshine Coast and heads the line-up. Keynote presenter is Judy Wicks, co-founder of the US Business Alliance for Local Living Economies.
Martha Shepard of natural foods company Galeru, Gary Hands of Kookaburra Organics and Helen Brierty of Yandina's Spirit House restaurant will also deliver their inspirational perspectives on strengthening local economies and communities.
The Local Food Value Chain Workshop will chart the barriers to, and a course towards, rebuilding and boosting regional food production.
Ethos Foundation program director Ken McLeod said attendees will map the weak points in the local food production chain.
"Australia's food economy is dominated by the two supermarket chains. Their centralised buying and pricing policies have driven down the returns to small-scale farmers and effectively destroyed the local food production and marketing capability that existed in most areas until the 1960s,'' Mr McLeod said.
"This has serious implications for food security as we move into a period of steadily rising energy prices, greater climate instability, and global food shortages. It has also driven many small farmers out of the industry.''
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