In the last decade or so, there has been a real shift in the Australian psyche, in terms of how we think about our food.
Where once supermarkets and processed food reigned supreme as part of a trend emerging in the 50s towards convenience, fresh, sustainable, real food is making a comeback.
More and more, consumers are looking beyond Woolworths and Coles to source food, and they want to know more about it before they eat it – looking for ethical, sustainable, locally-sourced and seasonal products.
Sure, we’ve come a long way since the 50s, but there’s still a long way to go before this food consciousness pervades the mainstream.
There are Farmer’s Unions, Associations and other organisations all over the country that work hard to educate the masses on where our food comes from – to make people understand and appreciate the dedication and the harsh realities our farmers face to produce our food.
But it may surprise some that it isn’t just the adults in agricultural, regional and rural communities that are passionate about supporting local farmers. It’s the younger generations as well.
A brilliant example of this, Boots For Change is an initiative created by five young women that asks Farmer’s Market-goers to don a pair of boots – whether they are gumboots, work boots, heeled boots or otherwise – and head down to their local Farmer’s Market as a show of support to Australia’s hardworking farmers and their families.
Initially created as part of ABC’s Heywire competition that looks to youth-led groups to incite change in their communities, the concept went from work-shopped idea to fully-fledged campaign when the Australian Farmer’s Markets Association agreed to facilitate the project.
AFMA National Representative Jane Adams says the concept stood out to her so much because of how simple and accessible it is.
“Everybody’s got a pair of boots,” Adams says. “No matter whether you live in the city or the country. All shoppers can put on a pair of boots and go down to their local farmer’s market to support Australian farmers. Everyone can embrace that.”
After running successful pilot Boots For Change market days at markets in Launceston and Moruya last year, the campaign has seen 51 farmer’s markets take part in the inaugural 2016 campaign nationwide.
Other than a mass boot-wearing exodus to the market days, boot-related activities such as boot painting, boot parades and boot-related cooking will form part of the campaign festivities. “You wear your boots, and when you get to the market, there’s boot things happening everywhere to reinforce it,” Adams says.
Behind the fun and light-hearted concept, however, is an important aim – to raise awareness, and funds, for those that produce the fresh food in Australia.
“We want to start ongoing conversations, in the community, but also between relevant organisations,” Adams says. “It’s vitally important to educate people, both from the country and the city, to help them understand where their food comes from.
“We want the campaign to educate people about the life of a farmer and the rigours of farming and food production, the realities of it; to encourage people to eat closer to the source of their food and understand the provenance of it – where it’s from, how it’s grown, who grows it.
“It’s putting a face on food. The real face… the farmer’s face. It’s removing the extra layers of the food distribution system. So you’re going as close to paddock to plate as you can.”
The Boots For Change campaign will run throughout April. For more information, visit bootsforchange.org.au.