A nuance to my childhood was political bumper stickers. The back of my grandfather’s vehicles adorned bumper stickers that targeted social issues in the most subtle of ways. These bumper stickers were also, always, advocating for farmers. From the spray truck that never left the property, to the ‘town’ car my grandparents drove around the Gold Coast, you could identify their cars because they had bumper stickers with phrases like ‘Thank a farmer for your next meal’ and ‘If you ate today, thank a farmer’ scrawled across the back.
When I was about 10 AgForce Queensland launched a campaign with the catch phrase ‘Every Family Needs a Farmer’. Well, as you can imagine, my family went bananas for this. We had pens, calico bags and bumper stickers galore. My mum, being her father’s daughter, promptly stuck a bumper sticker on the back of our car (as if the Nissan Patrol we drove through suburbia wasn’t enough of a talking point already).
I remember being so proud of having the word ‘farmer’ on our car. I would tell people all about what the phrase meant and explain to people that it didn’t mean we all had to quit our jobs and become farmers, but that we should be active in our understanding of where our food comes from.
This phrase is probably the war cry to my formative years. While my grandparents still grazed cattle, we ate our own meat and once they didn’t, we tried to support local, or support small businesses (my parents are both small businesses owners and their unwavering commitment to the ‘little man’ is definitely entrenched in me too.). We shopped at markets and my Dad still does ‘meat runs’ where he goes west shooting and comes home with whatever game he was able to shoot and butcher (I love my families paddock to plate philosophy, but that’s a story for another day).
I’m not saying we’re perfect, the convenience of shopping at Coles or Woolworths is sometimes too great, but I grew up with knowledge of where our food came from and have continued to be inquisitive about how we can better support Australian farmers.
Living in the bush you were almost always supporting local. We ate our own beef or lamb and there were no large supermarkets, so we had to shop at the local grocer. Living in the city it’s a lot harder, but here’s some quick tips on how you can support your farmers while living in the big smoke:
- Try avoid homebrand goods.
- Check your labels and see where your products are coming from. If there’s an option to pick Australian grown – support local.
- If you have the time/means, try shopping at your local markets. They are such great places to spend a weekend morning! Buy your groceries, buy a coffee and sit and enjoy the go-slow revolution.
- If you can’t shop at markets, try supporting a greengrocer. Then at least the money you spend in-store is supporting a business owner, not a CEO.
Basically, I’m writing this because I want to encourage all the city folk to know your farmers. Know where your food comes from. Is it local? Was it grown in Australia? Are you purchasing from the growers or have they bought their produce from huge companies? There’re no wrong answers to these questions and honestly, if you’re making an effort to buy locally, it’s the effort that counts.
I encourage you to ask the people you’re buying from where their produce comes from. You might feel a little uncomfortable while doing it, it’s a question that’s not commonly asked, but if you ever need some encouragement, know that I asked the fish monger at the markets where their Tasmanian Salmon came from…
If we know our farmers, we’re supporting our mates. We’re bridging that rural-urban divide and we’re bringing one of the best aspects of the bush to the city: Mateship.
And finally, to our farmers. Thank you for growing our food. Thank you for your tireless work in ensuring that Australia is fed, and our economy is kept alive. Thank you for facing crippling drought and devastating flood. Thank you for all the water and lick runs you do meticulously. For all the fences you fix and for all the smoko’s taken in the shade of the tree’s because there isn’t time to return to the homestead. In Winter’s chill or Summer’s heat, you work so the world can eat.