Supporting farmers and buying local is back in fashion

HAND PICKED: Kim and Jason Lewis from Cooloola Berries promote buying and selling local.
HAND PICKED: Kim and Jason Lewis from Cooloola Berries promote buying and selling local. Amber Macpherson

AS OUR earth evolves, the mantra "think global, act local” becomes more and more relevant every day.

With Queensland due to outlaw single use plastic bags next year, the throw-away culture is decreasing and society is becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of its decisions.

Riding this new-age wave of eco-awareness is farmers and producers on the Sunshine Coast.

Voodoo Bacon owner George Francisco produces his bacon out of Belmondo's on Rene St.

He said he's noticing a rise in people forgoing the supermarket for groceries, and instead heading to farmers' markets for quality and fresh ingredients.

"We're locally made bacon and we're nitrate free,” Mr Francisco said.

"I see it especially at the markets, people wanting to buy local, they're after the quality local ingredients.

"There's more and more people who are interested, who are aware of wanting local, sustainable produce and food and it's a great thing to see.”

Mr Francisco said one of the things he's mindful of in his business is food miles - the less travelling food has to do to be produced, the more energy efficient.

He currently sources his pork from northern New South Wales, but has struggled to meet farmers closer who live up to what they advertise.

"I'm currently sourcing my pigs from Ballina, which isn't as local as I'd like it to be,” he said.

"I'm really conscious of food miles, to get as local as possible.

"I've sourced free range pork from closer locations before to make my bacon, but it's not what you would think free range is.

"You'd think free range would be pigs out in a paddock, running around, happy pigs, but they weren't, they were inside cooped up, only let out for a few hours a day.

"In Gympie, I know there is free range pork farms so I'd like to get pork from there. It's just a matter of finding them and linking up.

"As a consumer, I want to know what did you do with it (the food), where did you get it, so you know the full circle, the story behind the produce.”

In a huge Australian strawberry industry, Cooloola Berries farmers and owners Kim and Jason Lewis promote small-scale production and the benefits of working together with local producers.

Their Wolvi farm produces not only quality strawberries, but also features a range of products from local producers from the Sunshine Coast, Gympie and Fraser Coast.

"Here in Noosa, tourists walk in to a cafe or restaurant seeking local suppliers and produce,” Mr Lewis said.

"Some suppliers or shops say it's local produce, but it's just from anywhere in Queensland.

"All of our fruits are sold locally,” Mrs Lewis said.

"We have about 100 families a week to the farm to pick strawberries and try the produce.

"I think people are becoming more aware of what they're buying and where it comes from.

"They want to see the process, how it begins and grows, and is picked and produced.

"That's why people come to the farm gate, to try sweet, ripened fruit that's as fresh as it gets - like it used to taste.

"We show our passion when they (customers) come to the gate.”

Topics:  cooloola berries eco-friendly farmers noosa produce slow food voodoo bacon

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