Monday, 24 November 2014

The Sweet Forgotten

I know I’m about to sound like the biggest hypocrite on the planet BUT it’s explainable.

Woolworths is the place all Katherinites dread. It’s where you go to buy vegies that have expired their shelf life, catch some kind of illness that’s not bad enough to stay home from work but bad enough that you think you should go home from work before spreading it to everyone else and it’s where you go to stand in a queue while eating or drinking the things you’ve plucked from the shelf to pass this time away so that by the time you get to the counter you’re handing over an empty packet or bottle to be scanned through before the checkout chick puts it in the bin for you. It’s not the place you go to be presently surprised. But the other day I was. In fact, I was so surprised I did a little happy dance. For there on the shelf was something I had not seen nor tasted for a very long time.

I travelled to America in 2009. It was the trip of a lifetime. I met people I had been friends with for ages online. They showed me their America. Undulating, rocky outcrops covered in sage bush dotted with grazing cattle to the North West. Big houses on green acres only minutes from the inner city that hosts baseball stadiums and giant blue landmarks to the East. I travelled up the West coast with a mate. I’m sure he wonders how he survived my panic attacks in mid-traffic in the bustling cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Being in another country, no matter how familiar television had made it, there’s still plenty to discover. I found Denny’s to be the only restaurants that served food I would actually eat. McDonalds wasn’t savoury, it was sweet. Costco was a jumbo sized supermarket and everything in it was jumbo sized. Food outlets are rated according to cleanliness, not food quality. And the processed food was far more processed than Australian processed food. But my one little joy I discovered amongst the super-sized and extra sweetened was a Texas made, iced tea drink called Snapples. It came in a huge range of flavours. There’s little “Did-You-Know’s” under the lid. And I hadn’t drank one since I flew out of the U.S. So to find it on the supermarket shelf had me cuddling the glass bottle all the way to the checkout where I excitedly stated “Snapples!” when I was finally served.

“Yeah! It’s back!” replied the checkout bloke. What the hell did he mean it’s back? I never even knew it was here in the first place!... Meh! I had Snapples. And I savoured it. Just in case Woolworths, in their capitalism wisdom, took it away again and it would be another 5 years or trip to America before I could drink it again.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Australian Made

I copped strange looks as I threw bag after bag of frozen peas back into the supermarket freezer. Made in New Zealand. Made in USA. Packed in Australia using imported ingredients. Why can’t I find brand name Australian products? I was forced to go against principles I’ve had in place since 2011 and buy Woolworths brand frozen peas.

For me, shopping is tedious. I don’t cook, I really only eat packaged food. I’m lazy and eat because it’s necessary not because I enjoy it. Except for good pasta. I enjoy that. So, my shopping has me checking the back of every packet looking for the words “Made in Australia” or bear the Australian Made symbol. As Australian made products slowly diminish, creating and keeping jobs in other countries rather than our own I wonder, do people really not care where their food comes from? How many of them give enough of a toss to think about checking?

Earlier this year SPC Ardmona nearly went bust and needed a government hand out to survive and keep their factory in Victoria open. Meanwhile, Italian brands flourish because their 20cents cheaper. SPC Ardmona do canned vegetables, in particular canned tomatoes (diced, chopped and whole).

Late last year Spring Gully did a Facebook call out asking for consumers to buy their products and keep jobs in Australia. The South Australian company manufacture relishes, pickles and sauces. Their corn relish is brilliant on a corned beef sandwich.

As far as I know, San Remo, another South Australian company, is doing okay. Their specialty is pastas and sauces. But that doesn’t mean we should get complacent.  If people keep buying home brand or some other brand they’ll be in strife too.

Consumers blame the government for not supporting our food industries but really, the only group we should be pissed off with is ourselves. It’s up to US to keep jobs here in Australia. It’s up to US to check the back of the packets, the signs above the vegetables, the stickers on the meat trays to know that what we are buying is going to keep fellow Australians employed. So next time you head in to the supermarket think before you buy. Even better, avoid the supermarket altogether. Buy your veggies from the grocer and the meat from the butcher. If you live in the country head to the farmers markets. Just, for goodness sake, BUY AUSTRALIAN!