December 20th, 2020Group taking action on vegetable front
The National Health and Medical Research Council is Australia’s peak body for supporting health and medical research. Its recommended guidelines for healthy vegetable consumption in adults comes in at roughly five serves of veggies per day.
But, according to the Active Living Census commissioned by Healthy Heart of Victoria to assess the health and wellbeing of community members in the Macedon Ranges, only 14 per cent of adults around here meet the guidelines. That is a woefully low figure especially when you consider the number of growers in the area and the farmers market network that supports them.
And before everyone starts blaming the pandemic for those poor percentages (market closures etc), it is best to note that this data was collected May to June 2019, well before the emergence of these so-called unprecedented times.
When the members of Veg Action read the results five months ago they were determined to do something to improve the figure and draw attention to our regional producers at the same time.
Veg Action began 10 years ago as MR VEG (Macedon Ranges Veg Group) to encourage sustainable plant-based eating. Today they operate under the Macedon Ranges Sustainability Group and when the Macedon Ranges Shire Council invited submissions to Cool Changes, a community plan being developed for local action on climate change, they were in with an idea.
“Our group Veg Action ended up forming a joint project with Cobaw Community Health,” says treasurer Greg Potter.
“Called Get to know your local grower, it intends to show that one way to invigorate local food supply and promote healthier and more sustainable eating is to make locally produced food more accessible.”
To initiate the project Veg Action and CCH have begun with a call-out to local growers inviting them to take part in a survey to get a better understanding of who and where people buy from in the local area.
They are also encouraging the region’s fresh produce lovers to nominate their favourite grower and go in the draw to win a locally sourced mixed veggie box.
“The main aim will be to produce an information booklet and web resource on what our local farmers produce and how it can be accessed to promote the idea of eating fresh veggies and fruit.
“That information can then be put on the MRSG website, our own FB page, the pages of foodie groups and elsewhere.”
There is a good reason for this. While such knowledge may seem self-evident if you are an activist veggie lover and regular shopper at farmers markets, a directory is aimed at those busy folks whose idea of regionally sourced produce is the local mall.
Such consumers may very well appreciate the idea of eating more local veggies and supporting regional producers, but unless they can access a directory of growers and where they sell, they’ll keep buying at those nice, shiny (read convenient), supermarket chain stores.
“Yes, it has really stemmed from that idea there are growers out there,” says Greg. “It would be nice to find out who they are, highlight them and publish that as widely as we can so people can access it. It is a good idea for the environment, the local economy and is an effective way of reducing food miles and strengthening local supply chains.”
Details: www.mrsg.org.au/vegaction or firstname.lastname@example.org
Veg Action committee members left to right: Greg Potter, Lucy Campbell, Heather Steele, Chitra Stern, Claire Rowland (group leader). Image supplied
Words: Tony Sawrey