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Pyrmont Locavores, Ethicurean eating and Food miles…

102 Pyrmont Locavores, Ethicurean eating and Food miles...103 Pyrmont Locavores, Ethicurean eating and Food miles...

Pyrmont Locavores, Ethicurean eating and Food miles. Gone are the days when kilojoules and carbs were the primary sources of dietary angst. Where food comes from, how it’s produced and how it impacts on both local and international communities have all become very real and very prominent considerations for the ethically conscious consumer. Pyrmont Village, investigates this growing collision of morals and meals, and checks out the ethical eating scene in Pyrmont.

It’s 7.30am on a Saturday. Not only am I awake, I’m much further away from the comfort of my bed than I would like. I am on a mission: to explore the Good Living Growers’ Market, located in Pyrmont Bay Park, opposite Star City.

Expecting to be greeted by glistening sunshine reflecting serenely off the water, I am slightly put off by the torrential rain pelting down around me, and I can feel the cheap and nasty glow of the Casino enticing me to give in to its warm, dry embrace. I reluctantly choose to persevere, and with my trusty umbrella protecting me from the elements, I turn my back on hours of ethically questionable entertainment and head off to discover some tasty organic and locally-made delights.

Held on the first weekend of every month, I have been told by a particularly verbose friend that the Growers’ Market is a “delicious feast for the senses.”

“I just love the tangibility of it all. The food is there, it’s fresh, you can find out exactly where it comes from, taste before you buy. It’s really refreshing, it forces you to focus on slowing down and turning food into an experience.”

All I can say is, the coffee better be good, and if every one of my senses aren’t heightened in less than seven minutes, I’m going home.

Started up by the Australian Farmers’ Market Association, the idea behind the Good Living Growers’ Market is not only to provide the Pyrmont district with fresh produce on a regular basis, but to enliven a sense of community that supports independent producers and those who painstakingly tend to their gardens for the sake of providing their neighbours with chemical-free, home-grown deliciousness. It’s about saying a big “No!” to fast food and an even bigger “Yes, please!” to fresh, nutritious, environmentally friendly produce.

However, underneath this ethically-inspired fun and frivolity lies a much more serious issue: the choices we make about food are no longer just about keeping ourselves healthy, or preparing a quick and easy dinner. Diabetes and cancer epidemics, exploited workers, child slavery, obesity, animal cruelty, poisonous chemicals and greenhouse gases; these are only some of the issues many of us should be considering on a trip to the supermarket.

Not so long ago, there were very few options for those who wanted to eat ethically. Becoming vegetarian or vegan were and still are considered fairly radical dietary decisions, but many people consider them impractical and even hypocritical choices.

“In terms of sustainability, being a vego is a great idea,” concedes one of my housemates. “But I essentially think it’s stupid. You can care about animals all you want, but if the vegetables you’re eating are being shipped over from Asia, you may as well slaughter the cattle yourself. The greenhouse gases will get them eventually.”

Being vegetarian, it’s bothersome that I can see sense in my housemate’s sentiments. I find myself struggling to continue with this way of eating as I more frequently consider the growing myriad of food-related ethical dilemmas. How can I be accepting of South American children sold into slavery picking my coffee beans and having them exported to Australia on a container ship that releases a ridiculous amount of greenhouse gases, but not be ok with eating a free-range chicken?

Growing awareness of these and other issues has made eating the ethicurean way the ultimate in socially conscious food consumption. That is, being able to account for what you’re putting in your mouth, but still enjoy it at the same time. Your food should be tasty but sustainable, locally produced, organic and cruelty-free.

Choosing cruelty-free animal products is fairly self-explanatory. But what’s so great about choosing organic, local produce? Many things, according to Robert, a 42 year old local Pyrmont resident who makes monthly visits to the Growers’ Market. “Pesticides and other chemicals are a real concern. I just don’t want to put that sort of stuff into my body. Choosing organic means I’m doing my bit for the environment as well as looking after my own health. And local farmers need our support. Imagine the impact on the environment if we got to a stage where all our fresh produce was imported!”

This is where the concept of ‘food miles‘ comes into play. For those who aren’t in the know, these are a measure of how far your food travels on its journey from paddock to plate (or from soil to salad for my fellow vegetarians). The logic is that the fewer miles it has travelled, the better the product is for the environment. And the easier you can sleep at night.

If you want to take this concept to the extreme, you can even become a ‘locavore’, a trend that is oddly growing in popularity, where you will only eat things that have been produced within a one hundred-mile radius of your local area. Unsurprisingly, this trend is fresh from the United States, and is accompanied by amusing terminology to gauge you level of strictness, such as the use of the ‘Marco Polo Rule’, which means you’re ok with eating herbs and spices which could be carried by sailors (?!). Being a ‘wild card locavore’ means you’re happy to indulge in treats such as chocolate or coffee which are produced much further afield, and you’re probably a strong believer in the ‘Marco Polo Rule’. Right

Mockery aside, while impractical (the more hardcore ‘vores won’t even eat salt that isn’t locally produced), the idea behind the locavore is essentially a good one, as it’s about supporting local producers and taking a stand against shipping food across long distances, exhausting the world’s supply of fossil fuels and causing unnecessary environmental damage.

But enough about the extreme end of the ethical food consumption spectrum. As a socially conscious Pyrmont resident, what options are available to you in your quest to make the world a better place through ethical eating?

Well, there are many. Even to the casual passer-by, it is obvious that Pyrmont is a suburb that has embraced the organic movement, with every second cafe boasting of its own blend of organic coffee. According to David Nedelkovski, manager of Pyrmont’s Quality Butchery and Delicatessen in Union Street, the people of Pyrmont “live and breathe organic and free-range”. David says this is one of the main reasons he chose to set up his business in the area, and is pleased by the constantly growing popularity of his free-range chicken and organic meat products.

For the supporter of supermarkets, Coles in Union Street is starting to build up a nice choice of organic products. Fruits, vegetables, even chocolate and baby food are all available in the Coles Organic range, and surprisingly the prices aren’t too bad.

Too lazy to be bothered with supermarket shopping, or find long queues unbearable? Fear not,, a family owned and operated business based in Melbourne and Sydney, will deliver a huge range of organic fruit and vegetables right to your door on a weekly basis. Pyrmont is one of their busiest delivery areas, so now there are no excuses not to jump on the ethicurean bandwagon, it’s as easy as the click of a button!

Now, back to my Growers’ Market adventure.

The sun hasn’t quite managed to peek through the clouds, but the markets are packed with punters young and old. After a lazy stroll past the stalls, I am surprised and even fascinated by the choice on offer. Oriental mushrooms from Bowral, hazelnuts from Mudgee, yoghurt from Gympie and even relish from Doodles Creek (yes, yes, I’m immature). A friendly lad from Li Sun Mushrooms is more than happy to discuss growing methods and mushroom varieties for a considerably lengthy period in spite of the line growing behind me, and I never realised the humble zucchini flower held so much promise. Overall, the atmosphere is laid-back and friendly, and I was impressed by the number of stall-holders who were up for a chat.

But where is the coffee? I can only appreciate this slice of country-in-the-city for so long before the caffeine cravings take hold. Thankfully, my question is answered: tucked in between Bega Dried Foods and Hunter River Olives is a stall dedicated to 100% Australian coffee. Grown, roasted and packed right here in the land of Oz (Far North Queensland to be more specific), with every sip I can feel my food-related moral quandaries melting away until my next meal, that is.

You can catch the Good Living Growers’ Market the first Saturday of every month in Pyrmont Bay Park. The next one is on March 7th from 7am-11am.

For more information on vegetarianism, visit the Australian Vegetarian Society at

For more information on organic food, visit the Organic Federation of Australia at

For more on the Australian Farmers’ Market Association, check out

104 Pyrmont Locavores, Ethicurean eating and Food miles...105 Pyrmont Locavores, Ethicurean eating and Food miles...

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