Live local challenge day 5 #livelocal

The rain finally stopped today and everyone in town took the opportunity to get out and about.

Parents had clearly sent their children out to run off some energy and it was nice to watch a couple of boys throw their boomerangs in the park.

The dogs finally got a chance to have a run off leash in the park too.

I had been invited to brunch in Bondi this morning, to consume exceptionally yummy chocolate products, but decided that I could not justify the approximately 80 km round trip. Nor could I consume the vast amounts of chocolate that I desired due to the distance it had travelled.

There’s no easy public transport options to get to Bondi from here either. Using public transport, the trip requires two trains and a bus, leaving home at 7.30 am to arrive in Bondi for 10.00 am meetup.

An alternative plan was to drive to the nursery to pick up some new plants – I’m doing another Live Local Challenge to help native bees. But decided that as the trip could not be done on my bike (too far & too much to fit in the basket) or public transport (none) it could wait and be combined with another car trip during the week.

For breakfast I had some boiled free range eggs that I found at the local supermaket (from Llandilo about 60 km away). Completely forgot to eat lunch & had a mid-afternoon cup of tea using mint from the herb garden out back. Dinner tonight is some more baked vegetables, including some nice corn from the local farmer’s market on day 1 – will be using rosemary from the herb garden out front for seasoning.

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Neighbourhood vegetable garden #livelocal

Finally braved the rain yesterday afternoon to visit a neighbour – who’s got a nice vegetable garden instead of lawn in her front yard (that’s a picture of it on the right).

She’s been away and it was our first chance to catch up in ages.

We chatted about the Live Local challenge and stuff over a cup of tea. Ok so the tea was Lapsang Souchong! But I was weak & a bit damp after my walk over 😉

This is a family who’ve really given sustainable living a lot of thought and effort. Amongst other things they:

  • keep chickens in the backyard
  • have a vegetable garden in the front yard
  • use water tanks
  • are installing a grey water system
  • have solar panels on their roof
  • drive a hybrid car

It has been raining so much here my water tank is full, and the rain looks like continuing for many days yet.  The rain did not stop most of Saturday so I didn’t go for a bike ride.  The weather does not look like clearing for several more days, so bike riding might be off the agenda until next week.

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Where does soap come from? #livelocal

This morning as we were washing the dogs I started to wonder where soap and the other cleaning supplies come from. 

Again, this is not a topic I’ve ever pondered before. But it is not just food that we consume. We consume many other products – almost unthinkingly – every day.

It is surprising how much of the cleaning stuff in my cupboard comes from Victoria (doesn’t NSW manufacture anything anymore?).

Also interesting to note was that every single product in my cleaning cupboard was made in “Australia from local and imported ingredients”.  And a  surprising number of products only had “Australia” as their origin noted on their labels, with no street address and only a customer care phone number.

Anyway all of this made me remember that my mother sometimes made her own vegetable soap and we children used to help.  In fact, she made a lot of stuff from scratch.  We often made our own sweets – toffees, marshmallows, coconut ice, jubes – as well as baking bread, cakes and biscuits.  We also had a friend, an amazing woman called Maria, who taught us how to preserve olives and make granita.  It was lovely to be reminded of these two great women who’ve been such a strong influence in my life.

Live local challenge day 4 #livelocal

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do is catch up with the neighbours about the challenge, but some are away on a long trip and everyone else is holed up inside waiting for the incessant rain to stop.

Normally this is a pretty social suburb and families get together to play soccer after school or to let the dogs run around off leash at the park.  Many others go for walks together or walk their dogs together.

But the rain means none of that is happening.  Sadly this has crimped my simple plan to pop over to the park and talk to everyone about the Live Local challenge.

If the rain stops today, the plan is to ride my bike to get some fresh bread from the local bakery.  Otherwise will need to take the car.  I will also check where the bakery gets their ingredients from.

On Monday I’m going to walk up to the local school (hopefully the rain will have passed) and see if they are interested in hearing about Live Local stuff.  Suspect they will be interested to hear about it as the school kids already have a vegie garden and make their own compost.

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Live local challenge day 3 #livelocal

Since today was a big work from home day I had the opportunity to take a break and explore the origins of some of the foods already in my cupboards.

For example, during afternoon tea breaks  I’m partial to a particular 99% fat free chocolate drink that comes in sachets.  Previously I’ve never bothered to ask where it comes from or where the ingredients come from.

Today as I made a cup of hot chocolate (using my nifty Girl Geek Dinner mug pictured) I read the packaging. According to the very helpful woman on their customer service line, this product is packaged in Rowville Victoria (about 1,000 km away)  using Australian ingredients, except for some milk powder imported from New Zealand.

Then encouraged by this exercise I continued my exploration of the cupboard.  It turns out that we have three kinds of honey:

  1. rainforest honey from Bateman’s Bay NSW (about 230 km away)
  2. organic outback honey from Dubbo NSW (about 390 km away)
  3. iron bark honey from Stockleigh QLD (about 1,000 km away)

Next time I head to the store I’ll be checking out locally produced honey – but it might be a while since we’re already got three jars.  I’m still not sure how easy it will be to find locally produced honey in the big supermarkets near my place.  The only wholefoods outlet that is relatively close to me is Macro Wholefoods, and it was just acquired by Woolworths. It will be interesting to see what changes there.

A good example of how you can get caught by inattention was at the large supermarket yesterday looking at canned tomatoes. There were two almost identical cans from same brand, but closer inspection revealed that one was imported from Italy and the other was Australian.  It was very easy to confuse the two.

Dinner tonight is some more of the vegies I picked up the other day, together with some chick peas from Bathurst NSW (about 190 kms away) and cheese from Bega NSW (about 450 km away). The cheese & chick peas were already on-hand and it seems wasteful not to use them. Thinking about doing a vegie bake with tomatoes & cheese, and a glass of Hunter red from Pokolbin NSW (about 120 km away).

The interesting thing about this challenge is that it is really making me think about where things are really from.  The package might say “Australia” but closer inquiry often reveals “imported ingredients”. At the mall yesterday it was interesting to see the huge variety of foods in the deli – they came from all over the world. I’m starting to wonder how sustainable all that choice is in the long term?

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream

Live local challenge day 2 #livelocal

fresh produce live local challengeWell a lot more planning went into today after yesterday’s experiences. Due to my schedule there’s been some interesting decisions to make about transport too.

Wins

  • finally made it to the shops (a 30 km round trip) by car and combined the trip with taking a sick friend to the doctor
  • had conversations with people at the market stalls to find out where their produce came from
  • got zucchinis and carrots from Wallacia, free range eggs from Minchinbury, and mushrooms from somewhere out near Penrith (I can’t remember the place)
  • finally remembered to take my calico bag

Fails

  • could not find any tasty tomatoes from any closer than Hanwood (600 km from here, but they are really tasty) – suspect we’ll be growing our own tomatoes soon
  • nor could I find limes from any closer than “Australia” (who knows what that really means?)
  • discovered I need more reusable shopping bags than I currently own

Challenges
Found out that quite a few people in shops don’t know where the stuff they sell comes from, it just appears from a wholesaler – so knowing the provenance of produce remains a challenge.

Still drinking my imported coffee (mainly because it was a 1 kg bag and there’s a lot left, it seems wasteful to buy more at this stage).

Due to business commitments I need to be in the city all afternoon and evening. This means that public transport is not an option for getting home.

The choice is between driving there & back or catching the train there and getting a (very expensive) taxi back. A combination of personal economics & the current rainy/cold weather led to a decision to take the car.

Learning
The entire Live Local process is causing me to be much more conscious about so many decisions that are typically made automatically. I’m definitely thinking more about journeys and how a single journey can be made to achieve more than one thing at a time.

The use of public transport in Sydney is really easy if you are on spoke and going straight into the city. But it is really hard and time consuming to go across town. I have regular business meetings in Parramatta, Ryde, North Ryde and the city – and this makes trying to bundle up meetings important but not always possible.

More info about the Live Local Challenge or follow the Twitter stream