Thursday, 19 November 2015

Made in Australia

With our recent jam-making activities, as a homeschooling project for Maia we took a look at where and how other commercial jams are made.

Like so many of the foods sold in Australian supermarkets, most jams are made overseas from fruits from around the world. It is almost impossible to know when, where or how the food is grown or produced, the conditions of the workers, the impact of the faming system on the land, water and community. 

What we do know is that there is enormous ecological footprint in shipping goods around the world and that foods grown non-organically have greater impacts on the health and well-being of our bodies and the environment. 

With the renewed popularity of backyard growing and fruit trees, learning how to preserve is a great skill. It is particularty useful to help deal with the seasonal gluts and reduce food waste and dependence on imported products. It seems crazy to let good fruit fall and rot, then later go and buy jam from imported fruits.

When I buy food at the shops, I am conscious of choosing local and Australian produce and read all the labels. Labels however can be a little ambiguous - take the Made in Australia label for example....  Choice Magazine gives this description of the sourcing labels:

  • Made in Australia means the product must be substantially “transformed” in Australia – it must have undergone a fundamental change in form, appearance or nature, such that the product existing after the change is new and different from the product beforehand – with at least 50% of production costs incurred here.
  • Made in Australia from imported and local ingredients means the product was processed in Australia (see "Made in Australia" above) – although the majority of the ingredients are imported.
  • Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients means the product was processed in Australia (see "Made in Australia" above) and there is more locally sourced ingredients than imported ones. 
So let's get this clear. A jar of jam labelled  'Made in Australia', does not necessarily mean that the ingredients were sourced in Australia, it just means that at least half of the cost of making the jam was incurred in Australia.  If you want at least half local fruit, you need to buy 'Made in Australia from local and important ingredients'. If you want all Australian fruit, you need to look for the 100% Australian Fruit labels.

Fortunately new labelling will come in soon, giving us a clear graphical representation of food origins by mid 2016 to help us make our purchasing decisions. However, the better option is to buy locally-made or make your own using local produce - this in my opinion is by far the best choice.

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