Why it’s important to Eat Local and Love Local

Northern Rivers Food chair, Pam Brook is calling on us all to support our local food producers. Photo Jeff Dawson

Eve Jeffery

There has not been a more critical time in recent history than now to support our own communities. That’s not to say we shouldn’t help out the rest of the planet – but when it comes to simple things that we can do to act locally (and think globally), we need to keep things close to home when sourcing food.

The Eat Local, Love Local campaign started 12 months ago as part of the Northern Rivers Food Harvest Festival, to encourage people to experience our local food trails: visiting growers, producers, restaurants, breweries and distilleries.

The festival is an event to show consumers all the ways that they can eat local produce, and experience the best of the Northern Rivers, during Harvest Festival week in May.

Chair of Northern Rivers Food (NRF), Pam Brook, says that for obvious reasons the festival couldn’t be held this year, but there’s still a need to support local food producers. ‘There has never been a more important time than now, during the COVID-19 shutdowns, for people to eat local, love local, and support our food industry and jobs in our region.’

Pam says Northern Rivers Food will be working with their members, and with groups throughout the Northern Rivers, including councils, Destination NSW and groups connected to the food community to keep the industry healthy.

‘We’ll be implementing the project through social media campaigns to encourage consumers to support the food produced in our region; connecting consumers to online directories of local produce across our region; working with groups across the region to build a food trail – of where and how to eat local, shop local, and experience the best of the Northern Rivers; working to raise the profile of the food industry from the paddock to the plate in the region and nationally, and building collaboration in the food industry in our region to create more innovative supply chains, to make it easier for restaurants and retailers to buy local, making it easier for consumers buy local.’

Pam feels it’s important to get a project like this up and running. ‘We need to build the most resilient food industry we can, one that can better survive future downturns, and we need to be planning now, and taking the first steps towards success.

‘Our food industry is one of our region’s best resources. We have some brilliant farmers, producers, value adders and companies whose produce wins awards the world over.They build skilled employment at all levels in our region, and are a sustainable industry to be proud of.’

Pam says the project is just starting to hit traditional media and social media. She hopes to see some results soon. ‘We even have an Instagram competition where we’ll give away 20 Eat Local Love Local shopping bags to take with you proudly when you shop locally.’

The group has an 18 month time-frame to build and implement their plans in collaboration with their regional partners.

‘But don’t wait until then,’ says Pam. ‘Support your local food producers now. Shop at locally-owned food retailers, shop online and get deliveries, get takeaway, cook at home, and celebrate our region.’

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