Coronavirus panic-buying highlighted the cracks in our food system, and our new research suggests how to fix them
Author: VicHealth, a Victorian Government Agency that works with experts, evidence and research in health promotion.
Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (23 June 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
Our new research looks at changes we can make to ensure everyone – no matter how much money they earn – can keep good, healthy food on the table.
Below are the main suggestions from the research.
What can help everyone keep healthy food on the table
1. Fairer wages and welfare
Before we address our food system, we need to look at who can afford to buy healthy food. Right now, vulnerable people in our community including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, single-parent households, unemployed people and people on low incomes, are struggling to buy the healthy food they need. Secure jobs with enough hours and fair wages are essential in enabling people to afford the cost of healthy food. It’s also critical that income support is sufficient so no one is left without food on the table.
2. Fix weak links in the food supply chain
Even though 90 per cent of the fresh food in Australian supermarkets is grown here, some essential resources farmers need to do this, such as fertiliser and animal feed, come from overseas. When we can’t get these resources into Australia fast enough, it’s a problem, as we’ve seen during coronavirus. There is also the fact that even though we produce 90 per cent of fresh food in Australia, it’s still not enough to feed everyone the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day. We need to fix these weak links in our supply chain so there is enough fresh, healthy food available for all Australians.
3. Keep the creative solutions coming
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, groups like Moving Feast delivered boxes of produce from local farmers and community gardens, meals and backyard growing kits to people doing it tough. Many farmers and farmer’s markets went online to keep providing fresh, healthy food while physical distancing. And many households started buying seeds, seedlings and home-baking products, which suggests more people are growing and cooking healthy food at home. We need to support suppliers and households to continue these fresh-food activities so more of us can enjoy a healthy supply of good food.
4. Diverse food suppliers to weather ups and downs
If more people can access the land, resources and education they need to grow fresh food, we will end up with a better spread of food suppliers in different locations. That means if there is an issue with one area, suppliers from other places can help pick up the slack. Consumers can also do their bit too by eating a diverse range of fresh food rather than relying on a few crops.
These are just four of the ideas to come out of the research into how we can ensure everyone can put good, healthy food on the table.
To hear experts talk about these in more detail, tune into Life and Health Re-Imagined event on Thursday 25 June. Learn more here and follow #HealthReImagined on social media.
More about the research behind these suggestions
The research paper on Good food for all is part of our new five-part series Life and Health Re-imagined.
Starting in June, we're exploring how we can all create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable community – for everyone. We’re bringing leading experts together for five weeks of ideas and discussions with the potential to change the shape of communities across Victoria.
Each week will include:
- A new, thought-provoking article and creative imagery published every Monday morning.
- A live, interactive online event featuring local and international guests, and host Virginia Trioli for the first few sessions and Shelley Ware for the others.
- Week-long coverage and in-depth discussion of the ideas on croakey.org
- Ongoing conversation on our social media channels.
Have a coronavirus question?
For all coronavirus questions visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au or call the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hotline on 1800 020 080.