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The Dependent Colony of Colesworths

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The picture above shows what remains today of my local papaya farmer's roadside stall.  It symbolically illustrates the state of Australia's family owned small farming enterprises.

A nutritionally diverse range of fresh locally grown food is now almost impossible to find, when just twenty years ago there were ample supplies.

So who and what is responsible.

You, me, and everyone who elects to buy from either of the two supermarkets who control up to 80% of our food supply and refuse to buy locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables from individual farmers.

It is our choice to buy the papaya that has just travelled 3000 kilometres before reaching the supermarket shelf, rather than the local farmer's offering at the non-airconditioned weekend produce markets.

But it is not all our own individual fault.

Hungry Jacks has decided to abandon loyal Australian potato growers and import product instead from North America.

Governments have enabled corporate players to buy up huge tracts of previously productive horticultural land to grow timber. 
These new enterprises were established not with any environmental do-goodery in mind.  They are simply tax minimisation schemes for top-end-of-town investors.
Bananas imported from the Philippines will soon replace those previously grown on this land.

Citrus from California flooded into this country during the last decade while our own farmers were busy bulldozing their mandarin and orange trees in the Sunraysia because of a "market glut".  Go figure.

Our Government provides financial subsidies for food to be grown and imported into Australia from other countries in the Asia Pacific region.

Instead of encouraging domestic food self-sufficiency, all tiers of Government in recent times have imposed legislative and financial burdens on smallholder farmers. 
The administrative effort and cost of complying with all the regulations of workplace health and safety, public liability, workers compensation, taxation, disease control, produce inspection and certification have all combined to force small growers out of the industry.  
I know a little about it because it once happened to me.

So, as a society what have we lost?

1.  Fresh fruit and vegetables grown locally instead of being
     transported from halfway across the nation or the world.

2.  Old food varieties that were both tasty and nutritious.
     (International agribusiness Monsanto now wants to genetically
      modify vegetables to improve their flavour. How about they just
      leave the genes alone and give us back some of the heirloom
      varieties which tasted just fine ***).

3.  Fruit and vegetables picked ripe, without chemical
     preservatives or a superabundance of plastic wrapping.

Supermarkets;

We wished for them.
We got them.
We will suffer from the health consequences of ingesting all the artifical, additive-polluted chemically-enhanced "food" which they sell.

Governments;

We live in a country which actively discourages it's own self sufficient food supply.
Nobody cares one iota about the demise of smallholder farmers or the little towns which once depended upon them.
Australia will become reliant upon food produced in distant politically unstable countries, and place life or death trust in the vulnerable shipping transport necessary to get it here.

Australia….sometimes you are utterly DUMB and STUPID!!!!

***  India and China, free from the ethical constraints of the West, are now the world leaders in the genetic modification of fruit and vegetables.

Does anyone else find that a very scary scenario?

PS.  If you haven't noticed previously, this whole subject makes my blood boil.  I promise I will not bother writing about it any more.  Instead I'll go and have 52 colonic irrigations next year to get all the shit off my liver.

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

19 responses »

  1. You're on the money, Gof.One of the articles I had chosen to support a piece I am writing about "Monopoly" is about the Food Safety Act in the US which amongst other things, makes it so expensive to store and track seeds that small growers will not be able to do so. As a result, Monsanto will get closer to a near monopoly on seeds which, being GMO, are the intellectual property of Monsanto. There licensing does not permit anyone to test their seeds (by genetic analysis or otherwise) nor report on such tests.Similarly, there are world-wide moves to privatize the supply of water in order to ensure clean and sufficient supply around the world. Very good, but this was tried in Peru years back under the auspices of the IMF/World Bank crew; to protect the foreign investments, it was made illegal for anyone (i.e. the peasants) to collect water themselves even in their hat. The result was a number of shooting deaths and the financiers backing down.I've just learned the new term, FEW, which stands for Food-Energy-Water. I don't have to mention what speculation did to the price of oil last year.

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  2. And, yeah, I forgot to mention, the peasants in Peru were unable to afford the new, plentiful water supplied! What an amazement.

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  3. Thank you koan911 for your support and adding additional information from other parts of the world..It is all driven by greed instead of common sense.When we were growing vegetables there was no permanent water on our property so at great expense we built 2 dams, then installed a pump and irrigation system. We were not interrupting the flow of any permanent watercourse or depriving any downstream user. The Government then saw an opportunity to make money by charging us one annual licence fee for each dam we had built and another for the pump, another for the "diversion of water" and then they wanted us to pay $1000 to have a government water meter fitted after which they could send us an additional bill for the water we use.And they wonder why we can't be bothered producing food for the nation any more!Somehow, for the benefit of our children, we just cannot afford to let the bastards win.

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  4. Here's the article I mentioned: Destroying America's Family Farm: HR 2749. A Stealth Agribusiness Empowering ActThe salient part is after the preamble following the heading:HR 2749 – the Agribusiness Empowerment Act

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  5. We buy most of our fruit and vegies at the Sunday markets, mainly because they're cheaper, I must confess. But if it helps to break the Colesworths monopoly, then that's an added reason.

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  6. [this makes me angry]
    … and I've said it all before. Sigh. The government charges on your dams make me especially angry tonight though. Bah. BAH!!!

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  7. It's not just Australia, the UK did the same and now you shouold see the suspicion the faces of people who have only ever seen aesthetically perfect produce when faced with an orchard grown apple that has spots on it. My friend, an intelligent woman, refused point blank to even try the absolutely delicious greengages from my dad's tree because she'd never heard of them. What we're seeing now, among those who can afford to do it, is a return to local produce. Farmers markets are growing in popularity and more and more companies that collect together produce from local farmers and distribute it via internet orders are springing up. We now use one such company to buy our meat and some of our veg and the difference is astounding, The veg is SO much tastier, even if Mr Vicola was amazed to see a carrot arrive covered in soil and the meat isn't stuffed with hormones, antibiotics and added water. One unexpected effect is that since we started getting the fresh local produce Mr Vicola has hardly ever had a cold, whereas he used to have one every couple of months. Local produce is the way forwards and we should be encouraging local growers, not stifling them.

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  8. I agree with every single sentence GOF, but the biggest hurdle to overcome is outright laziness – I know I shouldn't be purchasing Peruvian asparagus from my local greedy, stinkfisted, grocery conglomerate, but the fact is there are three of them within a 3 block radius from my house. On the other hand, the local farmers market is a 25 minute drive, is only open on Sundays, closes at 2pm and charges me $1 to park my car…granted, it's a small price to pay to preen myself as an ethically sound citizen, but as long as there's an IGA on my way home from work, I'm going to stop there rather than wait until the weekend to buy my bok choy. I, and every single suburban dwelling Aussie like me, will need several raps over the skull before we wean ourselves of this 'convenience' gig.

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  9. We buy most of our fruit and vegies at the Sunday marketsAs do we whenever possible, but as Inga points out in her detailed commentary, for many people there is not a convenient farmers market available.

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  10. [this makes me angry]Thank you for sharing my anger over Govt charges.We should let that anger out. No good bottling it up, for there is an additional GST on the bottles.

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  11. It is really heartening to hear your story about developments in the UK. There is a push towards farmers markets here, but at this time I think Australians have more of a love affair going with new shopping complexes.Our sparse population will probably mean that internet marketing of organics might only be feasible in a couple of larger cities…..and then there is no-one left to grow the produce…..my old generation is dying out and generous social security handouts make it unlikely that young people will be attracted to a life of hard physical work accompanied by meagre financial rewards.You are right. Nutritious freshly picked fruit and vegetables is the keystone of good health.

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  12. but the biggest hurdle to overcome is outright laziness. Thanks for your assessment Inga….that pretty much covers it all.It is simply convenient to drive that shopping trolley up one aisle and pickup everything in one go, even if the vegies cost twice as much as the local market.There have been a couple of attempts to open organic fruit and veg shops in Cairns with little success. If they were to attempt to open up in a shopping centre complex Colesworths would simply artificially lower the price of their produce until the new kid on the block was forced to close down. It is all a little depressing and I suspect the horse has bolted. It's probably a matter of "every Inga for herself" to grow or find the healthiest most fresh and local food available.

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  13. Your blood is boiling and my immune system is boiling. From a wheat allergy. Caused by foreign proteins in GMOs. Talk about scary, can you imagine if we all became allergic to fruits and vegetables as a result? It's beyond terrifying.
    Shout it from the rooftops. The other thing we've lost is a sense of community, that small business that employs local people, who we can all trust to be honest and give us great services.
    The people who work in small businesses in our community make minimum wage and they cannot afford to live in the same town where they work, only rich people can afford to live there. And when cheapo supermarkets come in, the overprivelleged decide that saving a few pennies is more important than community.
    It's a social issue as much as an environmental one. Outstanding post. Sorry it's eating a hole in your stomach, it is in mine too. But this is an inspiring post, maybe I can take a turn shouting from the rooftops this time.

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  14. maybe I can take a turn shouting from the rooftops this time.Thanks Emmi. The prospect of China running the GM agenda is frightening, because eventually as we pampered Westerners more and more consider we are beyond getting our hands dirty to produce food, or our stupid Governments pass legislations and impose costs which effectively make growers economically uncompetitive, then food from China will inevitably pour onto our supermarket shelves. (sorry that sentence went on interminably)The little town closest to us has a locally owned independent supermarket and they do buy local produce and consider it their responsibility to in turn support the local community. As soon as my town gets big enough, Coles or Woolworths will move in and undercut prices until the little supermarket has to close down. Parasitic corporate business.I encourage you to keep up the fight. Your generation needs to instigate some changes or the health of every human may eventually be compromised.

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  15. This is why we petitioned so hard to get a Farmer's Market near us – though (as with Inga) it only happens one day a week and sometimes it just doesn't work out to get there. We also lobbied hard for the development (getting the appropriate permits to build anything here in DC is a nightmare) of an organic market close by – we go there all the time though the produce is not necessarily "local". (I'm quite the neighbourhood activist LOL).

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  16. That is a very encouraging story Emjay. Just having any sort of local fruit and veg market is a good start. We'll never completely avoid importing some foods longer distances because of seasonality, but any way of avoiding total control by supermarkets has to be good. Inga's point about laziness really does apply in Cairns…..there is a perfectly good F&V market (much not locally grown but there is a huge choice with prices half supermarket) 3 days a week and it is just one block away from the central supermarkets. Many people just can't be bothered leaving the airconditioning to go there.

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  17. "Your blood is boiling and my immune system is boiling. From a wheat allergy. Caused by foreign proteins in GMOs."
    Can that be a cause of wheat allergy? Because I developed it in the last couple of years and I can't tell you how much it pisses me off. Wheat is in all my favourite things – cakes, biscuits, pastry, bread…and virtually everything else as well. I couldn't work out why after all these years of munching wheat products several times a day it would suddely appear.

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  18. Can that be a cause of wheat allergy? I suspect there will be all sorts of repercussions from GM….especially when it is being driven by 2 countries which do not have the same ethical research constraints that we have.Emmi would be worth talking to about the wheat allergy….she has considerable knowledge on the subject.

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