Diggings 29 June 2022

Clever commentary on issues facing the incoming Labor government, not the least of which is the price of a lettuce 🙂

Lead articles this week inevitably are about the skyrocketing prices of food with lettuce being the poster veg. Also more good news for gig economy workers with a deal being struck between Uber and the Transport Workers Union. On the down side the latest figures on the average Australian family diet is, as the article says, ‘bad bad’. But to leave you on a brighter note a story about Hawaiian communities reclaiming land and planting native crops – food sovereignty continues to make headway.

A cabbage for $9? Leafy greens among Sydney’s most expensive veggies

In Melbourne, the iceberg lettuce is among farmer Marco Mason’s star performers, fetching record wholesale prices and helping offset the rising cost of production at his Werribee South farm. Earlier this year, Mason watched in disbelief as the wholesale price for a box of 12 lettuces soared from $20 to $100. “Every second or third day it was going up by $10 a box,” he said. “It probably will be our most profitable year yet.”


‘I bring my sister a bag of lettuce’: The gardeners avoiding outrageous prices

Australians have reached for their spades and revived their vegetable gardens to beat the price shocks that have sent the cost of iceberg lettuce soaring as high as $10 a head. Gardening was a popular lockdown activity that has continued into 2022, but there has been a further spike in interest since the price of fresh produce started making headlines in recent weeks. Flower Power, a chain of 10 garden centres across Sydney, has recorded a 10 per cent rise in vegetable and herb seedlings in the past two weeks.


How the cost of your Sunday roast went up almost 40% in three years

If you feel like the cost of putting Sunday lunch on the table has increased, you’re right. A Sun-Herald and The Age analysis has found the price of a Sunday roast with all the trimmings for an extended family has shot up by nearly $30 in the past three years to $107.50. That includes a 1.6-kilogram leg of lamb, roast potatoes, carrots and onions, broccoli, a garden salad, a vegetarian option, vanilla ice cream and fresh blueberries, lemonade for the children, and a couple of bottles of Barossa Valley shiraz.


Supermarkets freeze prices on home brand staples as affordability bites

Not all grocery chains are going down the route of special price promises for staples. A spokesperson for Aldi said it was already well placed to beat its competitors on price amid food inflation and would not be following specific price deals on staples. “Rather than promotions on a select range of goods, we believe that offering low prices every day across our whole range delivers more meaningful savings that Australians can rely on,” the spokesperson said.


Uber strikes landmark deal on worker rights and pay with Transport union

The compact between the union and Uber, signed on Tuesday in Sydney where the two sides posed for photos, only includes broad principles and an agreement on future talks. But it commits both sides to backing minimum earnings on a “cost recovery” basis, suggesting the industry minimum could be no higher than covering what gig economy staff spend to work.


New data is ‘bad, bad’ diet news. Here are the changes to make now

The pandemic may have changed the way we eat, upending our routines and leading some of us – I’ll speak for myself – to eat the odd COVID-baked brownie for breakfast and eggs on toast for dinner. But, whatever changes we made, few have been for the better. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data on the diets of Australians, published on Friday, paints a bleak picture. Between 2020 and 2021, according to the survey of 11,110 households around the country, just 6.1 per cent of adults and 8.5 per cent of children ate the recommended two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables.


The world’s affluent must start eating local food to tackle the climate crisis, new research shows

We found global food miles emissions were about 3 billion tonnes each year, or 19% of total food emissions. This is up to 7.5 times higher than previous estimates. Some 36% of food transport emissions were caused by the global freight of fruit and vegetables – almost twice the emissions released during their production. Vegetables and fruit require temperature-controlled transport which pushes their food miles emissions higher. Overall, high-income countries were disproportionate contributors to food miles emissions. They constitute 12.5% of the world’s population yet generate 46% of international food miles emissions.


A new farming proposal to reduce carbon emissions involves a lot of trust – and a lot of uncertainty

Perhaps the main question to ask is, given the relatively low prices likely to be applied per tonne of emissions, how many mitigation technologies will prove economic to implement? For example, if the 2030 levy price on methane is $15 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, whereas the cost of mitigation strategies (such as using seaweed additives in cow feed) comes in at $20, then why would a dairy farmer bother?


The farmers restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests that once fed an island

In Kekona and Kapu’s food forest in Maui there are no pesticides or synthetic fertilisers. Cover crops and tilling are also out. “Traditional farming is about facilitating natural processes in order to feed the soil so that the land can feed us,” said Kekona. Indigenous farming practices in Hawaii are guided by the lunar cycle and wind patterns, knowledge which was also passed down orally over generations, and even documented in newspaper articles going back to the 19th century. These oral histories and archives have played a crucial role in how farmers like Kekona, who didn’t grow up speaking the Hawaiian language due to forced assimilation policies, steward the land today.


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