Archive for 'Resources'

Response to Senate Inquiry Regarding Income Inequality

Posted on 08. Dec, 2014 by .


The Sydney Food Fairness Alliance recently made a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs Inquiry into Income Inequality.

Click here to view the submission:

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Local Government and Food Security: An Evidence Review

Posted on 17. Apr, 2013 by .


This review of existing intiatives across Australia, Canada, UK, and the US is a first step to understand associations between various factors in the urban form, the food system and community and household food security. Admittedly, we still lack high level impact and outcome data that demonstrate and document the efficacy of interventions in any of these areas. But one thing is sure: the urban form and the food system can be modified and the modifications have the potential to have an impact on food security.

Whilst the literature is growing, we need much more documentation of what is being done, and better process, impact and outcome evaluation. We also need more experience and evidence from the local rather than North American scene.

Download the report here

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Setting up a Food Co-operative

Posted on 01. Feb, 2013 by .


This brief paper is designed to give practical information to schools and community organisations about food co-operatives. It outlines options for setting up and running food co-operatives and describes five successful models.

DOWNLOAD:… Setting Up a Food Co-op.

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Response to proposed appendix to NHMRC Dietary Guidelines

Posted on 08. Jan, 2013 by .


Australian Dietary Guidelines through an Environmental Lens

Food is central to environmental considerations since 30% of gas emissions are related to the production and distribution of our food. And as wisely noted by the FAO’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009, “food security is not possible without securing an environmental future”.

The Sydney Food Fairness Alliance does not welcome the initiative to relegate the environmental considerations of dietary choices to a peripheral document while it should be central to sustainable eating.

Read on…  Response to proposed appendix to NHMRC Dietary Guidelines

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The Australia Institute Report – Beating Around the Bush

Posted on 22. Nov, 2012 by .


Attached  is a new report, “Beating Around the Bush” from The Australia Institute which quantifies the impact to Agriculture from the high AUD that has arisen from the mining “boom”.


Since the beginning of the mining boom Australia’s rural sector has lost $43.5 billion in export income. This includes $14.9 billion in 2010-11 alone. These losses have occurred because the mining boom has forced the Australian dollar to historic highs.

The damage the mining boom is doing to other sectors has created what has been dubbed the ‘two speed economy’. The booming mining industry has pushed up the Australian exchange rate and in doing so has cut the export earnings of trade-exposed parts of the economy.

Read more…  “Beating Around the Bush”




Australian field of wheat by: Adrian van Leen

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Having our cake and eating it too – the big picture on food security

Posted on 05. Oct, 2012 by .


By Quentin Farmar-Bowers, Deakin University

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Although Australia is a food exporting country, about 5% of Australian families suffer food insecurity – inadequate access to or supply of food, or inadequate food preparation. Many suffer diet-related health problems, such as obesity, because of inadequate food, and things are getting worse. But our current single-issue approach – tackling either obesity, climate change or water security, for example – is unlikely to solve things.

The growing public interest in food security and sovereignty (control of production) isn’t spawned by a single issue. Australians are worried about vulnerability to climate change, population growth, foreign ownership of land and water resources, oil price rises, social inequities, food waste, diet-related health problems, early deaths in Indigenous Australians, fertiliser price rises and availability, land degradation, river health, biodiversity loss, declining growth in agricultural productivity, ageing population, urbanisation, and globalisation (with the increasing influence of international markets and the increasing power of multinational agribusinesses).

The diversity of these concerns reflects the reality of humans’ principal interaction with the environment of the planet: production of food. The diversity of concerns also ensures the public’s interest in food security will grow as these concerns grow.

While most food related research is aimed at improving profits in agribusinesses – including supermarkets – the wide scope of people’s concerns ought to be addressed in publicly funded research. Much of this public-funded research will be spent on individual concerns, such as “climate change and food security”, “population growth and food security” or “GM and food security”. While such focused research may answer specific problems it will fail to address the many interacting factors that are bearing down on our ability to feed ourselves adequately and maintain things we value such as native habitat and animals.

To get a multi-disciplinary or trans-disciplinary approach we need to frame food security and sovereignty using two ideas: systems and securities.

First, systems. The food system is part of larger social-ecological systems where people interact with the world’s biophysical landscapes and processes. So research into food security should be undertaken within the frame of social-ecological systems.





The ‘food system’ is part of a larger ‘ecological system’. buiversonian/flickr





People do not want the food system to “fail”, so resilience may be a useful approach for food security research. Agribusinesses improve their profitability by increasing the efficiency of the operation of the food supply chains. This reduces the resilience of the food systems to keep delivering when circumstances change. The notion in resilience is that system failure (losing the things we value that the system produces) might be avoided if we can transform the system, or parts of it, to keep the benefits coming and the failure point somewhere in the future.

Second, securities. Bread might be the staff of life but life is more than just “bread”. Food is not the only thing people want to “secure” for their current and future well-being and welfare. Food security is only one “security” among other “securities” we have to have to live full lives. In obtaining a satisfactory diet we shouldn’t deny ourselves or future generations the ability to fulfil all of our (or their) needs.

So what are these other “securities”? I think they relate to the full range of “needs” we all have.

Manfred Max-Neef lists nine fundamental human needs as follows:

  • subsistence
  • protection
  • affection
  • understanding
  • participation
  • leisure
  • creation
  • identity and
  • freedom.

Max-Neef’s notion is that people or societies are “poor” when one or more of these needs are not met. “Security” is about ensuring each of these needs will always be fulfilled in the future.


Most of these needs are psychological, but to achieve them we have to use materials and establish social arrangements and processes. For example, leisure requires places for recreation as well as the social acceptance of free time.

Instead of trade-offs between needs, the needs approach asks us to seek synergies so that one action can secure as many human needs as possible. For example, welfare payments may provide relief but when used as a permanent solution (as is government policy), such payments prevent the recipients from satisfying important psychological needs; welfare swaps “food poverty” for “participation poverty”.

The production of food is quite rapidly becoming a black box; very few Australians understand the operation of any of the numerous food supply chains. This lack of understanding makes it hard for us weigh up our competing needs. We have an inability to participate effectively in decisions about what we eat (really eat) and hence an inability to protect our families’ welfare and protect things that as a nation we are supposed to cherish, like equity (a fair go), native biodiversity and our ability to choose our futures.

A systems approach for food security research provides a way of studying social-ecological systems so that changes can be made to reduce food insecurity in ways that maintain the full range of securities that families need for a healthy and productive life. The current modest level of food insecurity in Australia provides an opportunity to experiment, at minimal social and economic cost, to find new ways of improving food security in preparation for future problems.

A fuller description of these ideas is available in Food Security in Australia: Challenges and Prospects for the Future.

Quentin Farmar-Bowers does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation


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Science does not support the super trawler!

Posted on 11. Sep, 2012 by .


One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish: science doesn’t support the super trawler

By Jessica Meeuwig, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published at The Conversation.  Read the original article.

While fisheries science is more complex than Dr. Seuss’ iconic title implies, he had it right in two fundamental areas. We need to understand the species we are exploiting in our fisheries (red vs. blue) and we need to know how many there are. The science case for introducing a trawler to exploit southern small pelagics is weak in both these areas. As such, it does not support the introduction of super trawling in Australia.

The target species for this greatly expanded fishery include blue mackerel, jack mackerel, Peruvian jack mackerel and redbait. They are repeatedly referred to as “small pelagics”, “forage fish” , and “baitfish”.

Such labelling conjures teeming schools of Peruvian anchoveta and Atlantic herring associated with the highly productive waters of South American and South African western margins and of the North Sea. These recognised forage species share a set of life-history characteristics, such as high growth rates, low maximum age, and high reproductive output: they pursue the quintessential “live fast, die young” strategy. These characteristics increase their resiliency to exploitation, but aren’t enough to prevent their over-exploitation in the face of highly efficient industrialised fishing such as super trawling.

The “small pelagics” targeted by the super trawler do not share these resiliency characteristics. Our “small pelagics” are typically twice as large in maximum length as typical forage species (63 vs 33 cm), have a maximum life span 60% longer (21 vs 13 years), feed higher up the food chain, and grow 30% more slowly (0.17/year vs 0.62/year). Indeed, these characteristics make them statistically more similar to reef fish such as baldchin groper, recognised as over-exploited. It is unclear how the robust recommendations from the Forage Fish Task Force apply to non-forage species. We should not be treating these animals as a highly productive resource on which we experiment with super trawlers, but rather as valuable wildlife in Australia’s low-productivity southern oceans.

Some are concerned about the potential for localised depletions when super trawlers are active. To address those concerns, we need to understand how local populations are replenished by young fish across the region and whether adults can replenish depleted areas. There is increasing evidence that the adults of many species are not as mobile as previously thought.

But we are largely ignorant about the effective population structure of these species. Of the four species considered for exploitation, the population structure of blue mackerel is uncertain, and jack mackerel and redbait are believed to have eastern and western subpopulations. No dedicated population studies have been conducted on redbait nor is any information available for Peruvian jack mackerel. Moreover, little is reported about adult movements of any of these species except that larger jack mackerel are found in deeper waters.

The total allowable catch of approximately 18,000 tonnes is a 10-fold increase over previous years’ landings. In setting it, the Government is relying on its ability to determine the un-fished biomass; that is, its ability to count fish. But its estimates are generally based on old information (in the east, blue mackerel information is from 2004), inferred from other species (for jack mackerel in the east) or entirely absent (for jack mackerel in the west, Peruvian jack mackerel in the west, and redbait in the west). It is likely that biomass estimates (and associated quotas) are much more uncertain than is currently reported. Indeed, ABARES assessments of population status are based on fishing effort rather than actual population size.

Australia’s relatively strong fisheries management has been cited as a reason why this experimental fishery expansion should occur. This is despite our poor understanding of the species and the high uncertainty in population sizes. Fisheries scientists and managers around Australia are to be commended on the quality of their research, particularly given the large number of targeted species, the relatively low value of many of the fisheries, and the consequent budget constraints for research.

But we should also consider salutary lessons. For example, the Western rock lobster fishery experienced unexpected and unprecedented low levels of recruitment in 2008 and 2009, despite the wealth of research conducted on the species and despite its Marine Stewardship Council certification. Fisheries management is difficult and should be highly conservative in its approach. The proposed allowance of an 18,000 tonne annual quota is not.

There are many other reasons not to allow super trawling including concerns over bycatch in substantially larger nets, low economic returns (reportedly of $1/kg) for a valuable resource, uncertainty around the effects of a warming ocean on fisheries productivity, and dependencies of other wildlife on these species. But even at the most basic level, the scientific case is not strong enough.

The Conversation


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