If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold , it would be a merrier world. (JRR Tolkien)
One of the great attractions of many rural (and city) towns is to be able to visit a Farmers Markets , (click here to go straight to a listing of WA Farmers markets) where you will meet the farmers and buy the freshest food you will ever find. Agritourism, which includes things like, Farmers Markets, Farmstays , Rural Escapes , wine tourism , the Harvest Highway and the Slow Food movements are all part of a process of people taking back control of their food supply and economic destiny.
In recent years our food supply has been hijacked by multinational corporations and the Australian retail duopoly. This website aims to help you find the Real Fresh Food People, the farmers, through Farmers Markets and direct farm sales so that we can rebuild a private enterprise, free market economy in Western Australia. To find Farmers Markets around Australia check out Australian Farmers Markets Association website.
The food supply in Australia is largely controlled by a duopoly that has been allowed to develop despite a Federal Government so-called Competition Policy. If we had a true free market there would be no need for empire building bureaucracies like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The application of their policy's is having a devastating effect on small producers, small business and communities across Australia, dairy deregulation being a classic example. The ABC's Four Corners provided an excellent coverage of this subject on 1 Sept 2008 titled The Price We Pay . I'd suggest that Australians have a right to demand the sacking of the head of the ACCC for not upholding competition.
The companies that make up the duopoly believe that they must continue to grow to sustain themselves, like a cancer. Left unchecked this cancer will kill the free market, private enterprise economy and threaten our food supply . How this has come about and the implications to our food supply is discussed in two excellent books, both American but also relevant to the Australian situation, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and The End of Food by Paul Roberts. The Weekend Australian Magazine, 17 April 2010 featured an article titled The lunatic's manifesto , "Joel Salatin is labelled a crank and a "bio-terrorist" for his views on industrial farming. But he makes perfect sense to Necia Wilden as he heads to Australia" to promote the movie Food Inc . To read more about Joels farming practices visit his farm, Polyface , the farm of many faces.
There is no precedence in the natural world for anything that continues to grow being sustainable. The economic model of the duopoly companies is based on depressing prices to producers as far as possible then trucking product all around the country. As energy prices rise this economic model will become less and less viable. There is no reason to believe that at some time in the future these companies won't go belly up, the way of HIH and Ansett. What then for food supplies in Australia? As a consumer, how you spend your money will decide the outcome. By supporting Farmers Markets and independent butchers (or in their absence independent retailers from the IGA group or Only Australian Groceries ) you will not only buy the freshest local food but be supporting a true free market economy and Australian producers. The push to support local enterprises is gaining momentum, driven Ausbuy . To have your say on the risks to Australia's food security of potentially diseased imported primary products please visit http://www.gopetition.com/online/35613.html
I believe that agritourism is helping people to take back control of their food supply and economic destiny, that in recent years has been hijacked in the western world by multinational corporations. The internet, through websites like this, and our Link Policy is also a part of this process, as information is no longer controlled by big business and governments. In many cases, the development of multinational food companies has only been possible through the use of additives and preservatives that in themselves have a dubious effect on public health. These companies have been aided and abetted by government regulators who have allowed toxic chemicals into the food supply (many of which have subsequently been banned) while banning traditional practices because of the presence of so called "bugs". These bans have displaced many small producers, yet the healthy human body has evolved over generations to be able to withstand these bugs. There is evidence to suggest that we need exposure to some of these bugs to exercise our immune systems. People who lack physical activity become physically weak, people who are denied the ability to exercise their immune system lack immunity to disease.
There is an obvious synergy between tourism and the slow food movement , why would anyone travel the world eating the products of the likes of Kansas Fried Cat , that are contributing to an obesity epidemic and are guaranteed to be the same wherever you go on the planet? You might as well stay home and save the air fare! Domestic tourism that brings people from the city into rural areas can help break down the city-country divide that is becoming a very divisive issue within Australia. To find farms to visit in Western Australia visit Farm Stay West or Nationally visit Agritourism Australia .
Aren't we fortunate to live in a democracy that allows its citizens to express an opinion, and at a time when the best of American enterprise and technology has produced the internet and Google, allowing for the free exchange of ideas. Barry Green , Managing Director, Western Tourist Radio