Australia Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2017

Blog site for the 2017 MSU study abroad program.

13-Tatum K.

Hi everyone! My name is Tatum Kenrick and I’m a junior at MSU. I’m currently pursuing both a major in Environmental Plant Biology and Environmental Studies and Sustainability (ESS). In addition to these majors, I hope to complete minors in Horticulture and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (SAFS).

As you may be able to tell, I am extremely interested in food production and how we can continue to feed the world while making choices that can be sustained for years to come. One of the reasons why I am so excited to be participating in this Sustainable Food, Environment, and Social Systems study abroad in Australia this summer is that I feel I will be able to take what I learn over the course of our visit and apply it to my future career. In addition, I am thrilled to be given the chance to immerse myself in a new culture for four weeks—gaining new experiences and making great memories.


My research while in country revolved around how accessibility to fresh, local food varies between urban areas in Australia and those in the United States. My goal was to find how the availability of these types of food influences health and behavior.

I found that fresh, local food is more accessible in the Australian cities I observed than it is in the major cities I’ve been to in the United States. There was a wide array of food retailers nearly everywhere we went—farmer’s markets, small scale stores, specialty vendors, and large scale grocers—and all had a commitment to local, sustainable food to some degree. In many cases these local foods were also priced more reasonably than imported alternatives.

The accessibility to fresh meats and produce, both geographically and economically, for individuals in Australian cities encourages healthy behaviors, such as cooking at home instead of going out or choosing to walk or take public transportation to the store as opposed to driving, and these behaviors help to build a more sustainable community—socially, environmentally, and economically.

Overall, my experiences in Australia helped to show me that fresh food can and should be accessible in urban areas and that the United States could stand to follow some of the examples Australia has set in its own cities.

A chalk sign, located at the Adelaide Central Market, highlights some Australian grown produce items that are in season and available for purchase in late May. These include apples, figs, pears, persimmons, pumpkin, shallots, snow peas, and sweet potatoes.

This chalk sign, located at the Adelaide Central Market, highlights some Australian grown produce items that are in season and available for purchase in late May.

Mushrooms on display at a stall in Melbourne Market. This stall sells mushrooms both loose and prepackaged in plastic and also sells some value added products containing mushrooms.

Mushrooms on display at a stall in Melbourne Market. This space serves as a hub where Australian producers are able to display their goods for purchase, mainly to wholesalers for local restaurants and grocer stores.

Fresh produce for sale at the Mildura Farmer's Market, including rhubarb, carrots, radishes, beets, and apple/pear juice.

Fresh produce for sale at the Mildura Farmer’s Market. This method of food retail allows residents to purchase food directly from the people that have grown it, ensuring that it is both fresh and local. Photo by Anneka Hart.

To learn more about local food in Australia, feel free to visit the sites I have linked below.

References:

Australian Food Hubs Network. What are Food Hubs? Retrieved August 01, 2017, from http://www.foodhubs.org.au/what-are-food-hubs/

City of Adelaide. Adelaide Central Market. Retrieved August 01, 2017, from http://www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au

Coles Supermarkets Australia. Our Commitments. Retrieved August 01, 2017, from https://www.coles.com.au/corporate-responsibility/our-suppliers/our-commitments

Local Harvest. Why is local important? Retrieved August 01, 2017, from https://www.localharvest.org.au/why-is-local-important/

Melbourne Market Authority. Melbourne Wholesale Fruit Vegetable & Flower Market. Retrieved August 01, 2017, from http://www.melbournemarkets.com.au/

Woolworths Limited. Woolworths Supermarkets. Retrieved August 01, 2017, from https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/about-us/our-brands/supermarkets/Woolworths/

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