Within the next two generations, Australia faces the very real possibility of losing our food/land connection.
FOOD TO EAT aims to re-educate and re-connect current generations so that our future generations are able to grow, understand and propagate our land to fulfill not only their personal food needs, but also the needs of our ever growing and culturally diverse nation.
FOOD TO EAT aims to tell the story of our food, highlighting its individual journey and the farmers, producers and chefs that help it along its way to our dinner plates. We believe that this is a significant step forward in our re-education, and by highlighting specific food growing areas, we can start to build the foundations in which will see our children's children be able to have a sustainable and healthy way of life.
Already, in such countries as Japan, who's population exceeds 127 million, they import some 60% of their food requirements. Their government is now seriously considering opening free trade routes with such countries as Australia and the USA. Although this will undoubtedly increase the quantity of food within Japan, it will also dramatically decrease the cost of food, and they face the very real prospect of pushing its own producers out of the internal market. If this is to occur, it is estimated that within 20 years, Japan will only produce around 10% of the total food needed for its citizens and the country being almost completely dependent on buying food from other countries.
The first stage of the FOOD TO EAT program is to highlight, through film and media, our amazing food ingredients, food growing areas, farmers, producers and chefs who are an integral, but often forgotten, part of our food industry. This will help to highlight those food/land connections and encourage an understanding of how and where our food comes from.
There are 134,000 registered farming businesses within Australia cultivating 61% of our land mass. Each farm is responsible for producing food for 150 Australians annually plus a staggering 450 international people. Australian farms feed a total of 80.4 million people annually. It is hard to believe when looking at these figures that our agricultural network is in any real strife isn't it? Unfortunately this is where the good news ends!
Nationally our farms directly employ some 307,000 people, Every year over the past decade, that number has been decreasing steadily by 18,000 people per annum. With a national average farmers age of 52 years, we face some very real and dire truths. As the average age continues to rise and the amount of farmers decreases at its current rate, what we will see is a drop in productivity, quality and an export industry, accountable for some $1.2 billion annually to the GDP, failing to meet both the national and international demands.
Secondly, once the FOOD TO EAT program has gained the media attention, it intends to begin the FOOD TO EAT FOUNDATION which will be set up to work in individual communities nationwide in food education.
This education involves working closely with local government and communities to acquire land to create 'community' farms. Each farm, unique to its location, will grow food which is then sold, at a reduced price for community members, back to its community. The farms will employ a commercial farmer and manager and be staffed primarily by volunteers. It is envisaged that, after initial outlay is recouped, that any additional profit from the farm can be put back into the community to fund similar food projects, education or community specific programs. To see a community farm in each major town or city within Australia, would not only build a communities self sufficiency, but also teach valuable lessons to our younger generations about the importance of food and our land