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The homegrown food people

Opinion

The homegrown food people

Jane Stephens recommends shopping a little closer to home this Christmas and taking advantage of the freshly baked, grown and crafted goods.

It seems we have been duped. Shoppers most often opt to spend their hard-earned dollars at the giant supermarkets because of the convenience and bulk-buying price advantage. But now the federal government says Coles and Woolies are not the community benefactors their warm and fuzzy ads lead us to believe.

Both companies recorded profits over $1 billion this year, and the Senate is expected to establish an inquiry in 2024 into price gouging. The contention is that they work together like pack dogs on the hunt, nipping at heels and corralling until they bring farmers and consumers to heel.

The federal government last week chipped them for keeping red meat prices too high, and we all know what they did to the poor dairy farmers in forcing milk prices through the floor.

All will be revealed in the inquiry, no doubt, but I reckon this Christmas is the prime time to ramp up our focus on shopping at local butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.

Times are really tough: the cost of living is biting and while this is the season to be jolly, prices and demands are making some of those smiles a bit more like winces.

But along with keeping things a bit simpler this year, the answer is surely to try to look closer. Home is where the heart is, as they say. On the Sunshine Coast, we have glorious baked, grown and crafted goods at farmers’ markets. Our little independent shops tend to stock creative pieces made by locals’ hands. We have seafood just off our coast.

Economists say the inflated prices set by the supermarkets are influenced by increased theft and with an eye on the competition. Even if we find ourselves in the aisles of the twin supermarket giants, we should remember that as consumers, we have a great deal of power.

If there is an absence of local produce and products, ask store management for them. Show that it matters to us as a community to look out for our own.

We know the profits of the big supermarkets are sheer, entrenched greed. Foraging and gathering a bit closer to home in the lead-up to Christmas this year will stem that at least a little. Small actions can have a big impact, particularly when we work together.

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Jane Stephens is a USC journalism lecturer, media commentator and writer.

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