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Sustainable Wellness: In search of goodness for you, the environment and the community.

Australians are increasingly becoming more aware of sustainability and the actions we can take that support it and contribute to a sustainable wellness lifestyle. When I speak of wellness, I am coming from a holistic perspective - meaning not just the individual, but focussed more on the relationships, actions and reciprocal systems that sustain us to grow, thrive and flourish as a community. That is why the Australian farmers markets are a great choice for food, household items and gifts - let me explain why this is a wellness matter that can make a big difference to you, your family, your community and the environment.

Great reasons to shop at your local farmers market:

• Shopping and eating fresh, local produce supports your local farmers because they directly benefit which in turn strengthens your local community.

• Buying directly from the farmer cuts out the middle men that often take 80% of the profits made from the sale of produce.

• It benefits the environment because transportation is reduced and carbon footprint involved in importing the produce is almost eliminated. Think about all the shipping, trucking and so forth involved in getting goods from interstate/overseas to you.

• You get extremely fresh and seasonal produce that left the farm gates only 24 hours before - as a result, it isn't subjected to cold-storage practices and other transportation measures that affect the taste and nutrition of your food.

• The food you eat keeps you in touch with the seasons and the environment you're living in, which reduces the cost on both the planet and your wallet.

• When you buy from farmers market it gives you the opportunity to meet the farming community and hear their stories. You connect with the people behind the produce, build trusting relationships and learn more about the food, lifestyle and environment it is grown in. These relationships can become reciprocal.

The Boroondara Farmers Market

This weekend we visited Boroondara farmers market to support our local farmers and it was great to connect with the community after a difficult year in Victoria with the pandemic. It was our first time out and about shopping together in quite some time and it was outdoors, local and felt safe.

We enjoyed a great Turkish breakfast of pumpkin and leek Gozleme and fresh roasted coffee in a socially distanced sitting area and overheard stories about the farmer selling oranges from Mildura also winning bronze in the Olympics diving competition! Made us giggle how some of the locals knew so much about the sellers and reminded us of the community we long to live in and are seeking to create for ourselves and our children.

We then bought some organic cauliflower, spring onions, Tuscan kale, spinach, leek, truss tomato, hummus, Calabrese olives, marinated mushrooms, Turkish bread and Grampians raw red gum honey. Most of it was grown on the Mornington Peninsula. What a fabulous haul it was and I even purchased some hand-made bath bombs and soap from Sapon with 100% pure essential oils - Australian made and owned, not tested on animals. I am going back on November 21 to get some more for Christmas presents!

We then found a lovely jar of honey from The 3 Bees and it was difficult to choose which one we wanted but with a family of 6 all loving honey we went for the red gum Grampians raw honey pot. We both know it will be gone sometime next week when the girls discover it. To help us make our choice the farmer gave us a bit of the history of honey. Apparently in Europe honey was an artisan craft because the native flora and fauna only produced small amounts of honey. Because of this small quantity, farmers who made a livelihood from keeping bees and making honey used the raw honey method which was considered highly medicinal because of the incredible properties raw honey possesses.

However in Australia our gumtrees and other native plants produce so much pollen that when they introduced European bees to our environment, they produced far more honey. In order to make more money and avoid wasting the massively increased yield, apiarists started heat-treating the honey to preserve it for longer. This had the unfortunate side-effect of destroying much of what makes honey amazing; most notably, the complex sugars are broken down into simple sugars, which drastically affects the healthfulness of the honey (making it more akin to regular sugar). Raw honey is also a prebiotic, which is a substance that nourishes existing gut bacteria; this property is lost during the heat treatment process. In recent decades many of our agricultural practices have changed around the world and the worlds biodiversity has been diminished, as well as that of our gut bacteria. Ecology is both fascinating and such an insight into our connection to the natural world. So honey in its mass produced form is not the same as raw honey, which is crafted in a way that keeps its properties complex, natural and medicinal.

Visiting the farmers markets provides an educational experience - it's great for children, as well as an opportunity to practice sustainable wellness and grassroots action you can take to help your community be more sustainable. To find out more about farmers markets across Victoria, visit the Farmers Market Association page to find your local market.


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