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City Girl in a Country World

Alice Gorman and Family

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23Jul

carro-de-la-compraDo you ever line up at the supermarket checkout and have a sticky beak at what other people are buying?

I do. All the time.

I also loiter around the fruit and vegetable section, just observing how people go about choosing what they’ll buy. Call it a farmer’s wife occupational hazard.

What often irks me is how much processed, high-sugar, pre-packaged, ‘convenience’ foods make it into the trolley, at the expense of fresh fruit and vegetables. What really riles me is when these same people complain about the high cost of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Are they serious, I wonder as I check out the price of a 24-can slab of Coke, a 12-pack of Vanilla Drumstick ice-creams and the cost of a sugar-laden box of breakfast cereal.

I’ve been grumbling away to myself and my husband for some time now and finally this week decided to put pen to paper (well fingers to keyboard) and write about it … in my weekly column for the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Since the column published in the paper and online I’ve been very happy to hear from loads of people who feel exactly as I do.

One reader wrote to me to say this:

‘We sell products (dairy not fruit) at Farmers Markets all around Brisbane on the weekends, and lately these markets have become nothing more than breakfast clubs, where young families don’t think twice about spending $50 for breakfast, then they say our products should be much cheaper because we don’t have to pay high rents like the shops,  or “why can’t we stay open until 1 or 2 pm so they can come for lunch.” We got up at 1.30am why not stay a little longer !!!!!!

‘Give me strength, that $50 could feed their family for a week with fresh vegetables and fruit and they have just bought the latest fad breakfast while discussing the loss of their family tax benefit B.’

Other readers agreed that if people can afford a regular cup of takeaway coffee then they can also afford to give their kids fresh fruit and vegetables.

I don’t know whey we’re so fixated on the price of fruit and veg when most of us would be hard pressed to price a Mars Bar, a packet of chips or a can of soft drink.

As I say in the column, my weekly budget is not being blown out by the cost of lettuce.

Read my rant here

23Jul

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We’ve just hosted our third Kalfresh Carrot Field Day, an event which started as a bit of experiment to see if carrot eaters were interested in coming to see how the orange veg is grown, picked, washed and packed.

The first year we held the open day, as part of our local Council’s Eat Local Week activities, we were pleasantly surprised by the turnout.

The following year the numbers grew and this year we lost count – but think we welcomed about 600 people through the Kalfresh shed and carrot paddocks.

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I’ve been conversing with Pip Courtney, Landline journo and presenter, on Twitter for some time now. I’ve also been ‘gently encouraging’ Pip to do a story on carrots and on how city consumers really are interested in learning about where their food comes from.

Richard, Pip and Rob

So Pip and her crew came to visit Kalfresh for the Carrot Field Day and the story went to air last weekend.

It was awesome and we’ve had stacks of positive feedback, enquiry and interest in everything from carrots to tractors and the mighty Kalfresh trucks.

Alice & Richard pic

My favourite line of the story is the one where Pip says, ‘Richard married well’. I won’t let him forget that in a hurry.

Watch’s Pip’s story now

7Jul

When Susan McDonald’s younger brother Zanda was killed in a farm accident in April 2013 he knew what she must do.
The working mum of three quit her job as chief-of-staff to Natural Resources Minster Andrew Cripps and took the reins of the family’s recently acquired Super Butcher business.
Equipped with her background in accountancy she set out to realise her brother’s dream for the business.
Prior to his death Zanda and Susan had spoken about his vision for Super Butcher to provide farmers with access to customers and sustainable prices and for consumers to have access to quality brands of ethically raised meat.
Susan now oversees the seven Super Butcher outlets and 120 staff. I spoke to her last week about her vision for the business.

“Zanda was recognised by the industry as having great foresight,” Susan told me.
“He started exporting our family brands, Wallumba and Alexander around the world. He had the herd accredited with the RSPCA for the ethical treatment of animals and he put a lot of work into breeding lines for the herd. He saw Super Butcher as an opportunity to bring the world class Australian meat, not just beef, to consumers.
“We use a cellar door analogy, because people can come in and choose the kind of meat they want. Grain fed, grass fed, organic, wagyu, different cuts.
“Before he died, Zanda and I had talked about it a lot and I understood what his dream was and I felt the same way.”
Zanda, a father of four, died from the injuries he incurred when he fell four metres from a windmill on the family property near Cloncurry.
The McDonald family is Australia’s largest private landholder with 175,000 head of cattle on 11 properties located from the Cape to Condamine, covering an area of 3.36million hectares.
Susan says she is passionate about ensuring producers get a fair go and are paid properly for their efforts.
“They put a lot of effort into building a brand and into breeding, a lot of hard work goes into producing quality meat and we should be promoting that, not making it some unbranded product,” she says.
“We want to provide real meat for real people. Zanda’s vision for Super Butcher was to give consumers more choice and to make buying meat an entire experience – customer service, quality and range.
“And we’re allowing farmers to tell their own stories and be true to the product they’ve produced.”

Susan was my Sunday Mail Ask a Farmer profile this weekend. Download the story.

16Jun

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I have a thing for great handbags.
It’s my vice. Some women love a glass of chilled white in the afternoon, others a sneaky cigarette. For me it’s all about the handbag.
I run a handbag budget, separate to our household spending budget. It’s a little fund that only I know about. A fund that means a couple of times a year I can add to my bag collection.
I can’t fully explain my fascination with designer handbags – it’s their look and feel; the belief that some part of me is still fashionable and of course (but not always) there’s the functionality.
I’m sure the trendy salespeople who man the handbag shops have no idea just what I plan to inflict on my bags.
If they did they may well refuse to sell them to me.
Because as most mums will attest, when you have kids your handbag becomes your little ‘home away from home’.
It’s the rescue kit for all manner of situations – situations you could never have imagined pre-kids.
A mother’s handbag is her Aladdin’s Cave. Delve into the depths and you’ll find a fix for most horror scenarios.
Cut knee, broken arm, overtired kid screaming in the supermarket, hungry child in the car, second pair of shoes for ritzy lunch with school mums. You name it you’ll probably find it in a mother’s handbag.
That’s why my collection features some BIG bags. I’ve tried to make do with those cute, tiny ones but let’s be honest – there’s no way I’d make it through the day with the limited supplies small bags hold.
So big it is.

29May

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In the 10 years I’ve been married to a carrot farmer I have lost count of the number of wonky carrot photographs I’ve been sent – unsolicited – from friends and colleagues.

Their motivation is to share photographic evidence of their carrot-growing attempts. Two-headed carrots, wonky carrots, stunted carrots, kissing carrots, spooning carrots – I’ve seen them all.

Invariably the conversation turns to the question – Why won’t my carrots grow straight?

Apparently it’s all to do with the soil prep because the length of your carrot is determined in the first days of the seed being in the ground. If your soil is too clumpy, lumpy and hard the carrot root won’t get far and you’ll be left with a misshapen carrot.

SO to all those people who over the years have sent me photos of their attempts I have some news for you.

Join us on Saturday July 5 for our third annual Kalfresh Carrot Field Day.

You’ll be able to meet the Kalfresh farmers, get tips direct from them, sit in the tractors, tour the carrot washing and packing shed AND venture into the paddock to get muddy and pick your own bag of carrots.

This is a fun and informative day out for young and old. Bring the kids and show them where their food comes from.

It’s all part of Scenic Rim Eat Local Week, a week-long celebration of food and farming in our region.

Download the full Eat Local Week program