In My Kitchen: I want what I want not what you’ve got. It’s my money.

Our planet is a mess. Our world is a mess. Our economies are a mess. Our politics are a mess. Our food culture is a mess. Too often I feel just one person -me- can’t do enough about saving the planet, changing the world, fixing the economy or persuading politicians… other than making my vote count at the next election by choosing as best I can from the options available.

Choosing as best I can from the options available is how I decide what to eat. And just maybe it will create positive change for the planet, world, economy and even politics.

What I choose to eat depends on my circumstances, time, budget, location, preferences… and principles. Food matters to me. I need to eat. What do I eat? Where do I spend my money? I was trying to care about good food without much information to guide me, relying on what the supermarkets sold me, and the right choices never seemed to come easily.

I’ve always played music in my kitchen -for me, it goes hand in hand with cooking. One day I was playing The John Butler Trio album Three, and a line from lyrics of the song Money stuck in my head… “So tell me man can you eat your money…” It clarified the confusion I had been feeling. So many places I was paying money to for food didn’t care about the food the way I did. It was just a Thneed they wanted to sell me to get my money.

Can you eat your money?
Can you eat your money?

I prefer to hand over cash in exchange for food to people I’m familiar and can have a conversation with; this from going to farmers markets when we were living in the city and learning about food direct from producers who travelled from the country. Now living in the country I’m exploring our new food neighbourhood and continuing have conversations… some are easier than others.

I asked, and learned from Dangerous Dan’s butcher they don’t stock feedlot meat. Their product labelling and conversational butcher told me their beef is grass-fed, pastured from the Manning Valley (200 kilometres). He said the lamb is from western NSW and the pigs are from local small holdings. But their chickens are Red Lea, have Free Range Accreditation but are not pasture reared. They don’t stock beef cheeks because they have to buy 20 kilogram lots. Macksville Quality Meats stock the local Burrawong Gaian chickens I buy which are pasture reared. Conversations with these guys are more prosaic. Their beef comes from Wingham (200 kilometres), and the story’s the same for lamb, pork and beef cheeks.*

We like to buy meat from our local Pub with No Beer, whose beef & pork is locally pasture reared (by the G.O.’s cousin who I can chat to and order beef cheeks from) and Kinloch Quality Meats at nearby Scotts Head butcher who grow their beef and pigs just up the road from us. We’re fans of Eungai Creek Buffalo who I first met many years ago at Eveleigh-Carriageworks Farmers Market when they had a farm west of Sydney. They moved to the Nambucca Valley, and now have a café on their farm adjacent to buffalo in the paddocks as well as a product range of meat, cheese, yoghurt and icecream.

Feeding my man local pasture raised meat from The Pub With No Beer & Eungai Creek Buffalo
“Feed the man meat” Local & pasture raised (in cryovac packaging) from The Pub With No Beer & Eungai Creek Buffalo

I simplify my choices and exercise my principles by shopping local, choosing independents over big supermarket chains. The nearby Macksville Foodworks Co-op supermarket meets most of my needs for basic grocery items and importantly stocks a reasonable selection of local products as does the other local independent, Richies IGA at Nambucca Heads.

Supermarket milk wars have recently shone a much-needed spotlight on Australian’s consumer choices for dairy products. Both these independent supermarkets stock my preferred local Norco (i.e. “North Coast” 100% Farmer Owned Co-Op) and Devondale (The Aussie Farmer Co-Op) dairy products as well as other small producers’. Foodworks hadn’t been stocking the G.O.’s favourite Norco spreadable butter, so I asked them if they could. A  few weeks later, it appeared on the shelf.

Recently at Woolworths Nambucca Heads searching for Australian company Republica’s organic fair trade coffee -our compromise on price, taste, ethics & availability- I noted local brands on the shelves were slim pickings… no local Norco dairy products. There were Nowra (650 kilometres) cheeses, prominently labelled local. I bought one… Hello, my name is Dale, I’m a cheese addict!

Close to home... local dairy products and home made yoghurt
Local dairy products & homemade yoghurt “Sweet dreams are made of cheese. Who am I to diss a brie… or a camembert”

Eggs were the first food choices I made from an ethical standpoint. Oh, the joy and satisfaction when I get my hands on good eggs from friends, neighbours, friends & family of neighbours, the Pub with No Beer, farmers markets and if necessary the supermarket… I advocate consumer free ranging to find good eggs preferably from pasture ranging chickens. Pastured chooks, being natural creatures don’t lay all the time, so the more sources the better. I’ve been a fan for a while of Flavour Crusader which lists directories for local, free range and organic produce – eggs as well as milk, pork, garlic, chicken, fruit and vegetables, and was excited to discover the newly launched CluckAR – The Free Range Egg Detector App with which “you can simply point your smartphone camera at a carton in the supermarket, and get a clear picture of which brands are selling eggs from the most chilled-out, happy hens”.

"You can't make an omelette with breaking a few eggs"
Local, pasture raised, organic and free range “You can’t make an omelette with breaking a few eggs”

Some food conversations are really awkward…. Mrs Well-Meaning Neighbour asked me if we liked corned beef (silverside). Sensing more to the question, I replied “yeeeesss” cautiously. She went on… would we like a frozen corned beef courtesy of their prodigious meat raffle wins? Knowing the raffle meat source was the local supermarket, I politely declined explaining we don’t buy or eat supermarket meat as it doesn’t agree with us. Several hours later the G.O. showed up at the back door, his face wearing a hunted expression and clutching a large frozen corned beef with which Mrs Neighbour had presented him at the gate. Upon seeing this I announced “we’re taking it back”. His expression became more woeful, so I agreed to look into its provenance. I Googled the name on the packaging, Thomas Farms… “innovative and value added-meat products” part of Thomas Foods, “Australia’s largest 100% family owned… third largest meat processor” and found several interesting articles which swayed the G.O. who said “we’ll take it back”. And we did, once again politely explaining we don’t buy or eat supermarket meat as it doesn’t agree with us and this product was likely via a feedlot i.e. AFO/CAFO (Concentrated/Animal Farming Operation). To which Mrs Neighbour responded “we don’t know anything about that, but my daughter will be happy to have it”. The experience left the G.O. and I feeling need-a-glass-of-wine-to-recover stressed. But a few days later, Mrs Neighbour triumphantly reported the corned beef had been well-received.

I care about my food and my money. Food shopping involves far more considering of choices and circumstance, time, budget, location, preferences than I believe it should but it’s my money and principles which give me power to influence food culture. When I can’t find what suits me I walk away without buying anything, often remarking

“I want what I want not what you’ve got. It’s my money”.

Thanks to Maureen at The Orgasmic Chef for hosting the monthly In My Kitchen, and the blogging community for the inspiration & virtual company they provide.

* Correct at time of publishing.

34 thoughts on “In My Kitchen: I want what I want not what you’ve got. It’s my money.

  1. I can just imagine the ‘GO and the neighbour’ scenario! It is tough to hold your ground at times especially in cases like this, but you seem to be built of the right stuff! Well done.


  2. Good for you underlining the point with the neighbour. It’s one thing if people choose to ignore the facts, but another when they inflict them on you, especially after telling them! We have nothing like your choices but I do my best and yes, I often leave what is on offer and find something else when the standards are just too awful. Last week the grocery had Mexican asparagus. Last year it was Peruvian. Honestly, does anyone need to eat asparagus that badly? I have made one exception on buying local lately, walnuts. I tried twice to buy Australian walnuts and they were awful, must have been stored where it was hot or they were old, I don’t know, but they were rancid. The California walnuts are quite good at the moment, but I’m only using them sparingly in favour of Australian pecans and macadamias from you know who!! Your are not alone in your quest, but there are a lot of the world’s population who don’t have the luxury of choice that we have. Still, we can try to set a standard that sends a message.


    1. You do well finding real food within your locational circumstances… which we experience similarly when we travel in the van. It’s not lack of choice that I mind so much but when my choices are prescribed for others’ convenience / financial gain… or by a neighbour who can’t see my point… Cheap OS garlic annoys me. Australia grows great garlic, and exports it. Only occasionally does OS fresh produce tempt me, and in limited quantity… last time it was huge & delicious huge cherries that screamed roast duck! What a shame about the walnuts. Woolworths did have good Tassie walnuts. At the moment I can get them loose from a small local independent supermarket – Lairds, that stocks a good range of bulk dry goods.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brava Dale, you echo my sentiments exactly. It was much easier for me to make good decisions in Melb. Brisbane has a bit of catching up to do, I’m still reeling from the volume of plastic bags that retailers at my local Farmers Market hand over without a second thought, seems a bit self defeating to me. Where you spend your $$$ has much more impact on your daily life than your vote sadly, so it’s worth the effort, even at the risk of offending a neighbour. You may need to make a few compromises when buying food while you travel though, esp once you get off the beaten track, the choices are limited


    1. It was easier for us living in Sydney the city of we-bring-it-to-you farmers markets! I always take cotton carry bags to the markets but I’m working on getting better at remembering to take reuseable bags with me to the shops… In Sydney I had a nanna trolley for the markets. Even on our Victoria trip sometimes our preferred food choices were limited but we opted for what we could.


  4. I do agree with you on most of these points Dale. I don’t eat meat, as you know, so am never really faced with that dilemma, and I have my own eggs, which I have started selling, but wonder why I am bothering. But I don’t take the organic or local thing too far. I can’t do that, I’ll do it at times, if it suits me and my budget. I have some friends who want to know the provenance of everything they eat- I’m not like that. I also know younger folk who struggle to make ends meat, and yes, they buy crap chicken and meat- food on the table is the only thing that counts for many.
    How nice that the GO backed you up on your stance with the nieghbour. Not sure how I feel about this either.


    1. I buy organic, local etc when I think it’s worth it. We eat less meat than ever, spend the same $$$ and I spend more time in the kitchen making it go further. I think every dollar is well spent on local producers where I pay it direct to the grower and it doesn’t piggy bank into corporate profits. I wish I didn’t need to care so much about where what I eat comes from, that it were plainer & simpler. I hate that cheap food played out in the marketplace with questionable transparency & integrity, vying for shopper dollars often from those can afford it least.
      I wasn’t sure either how I felt about that exchange with the neighbour… well meant, poorly executed, possibly on both sides.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks… the alternative is a celebration of corporate snouts in the trough…mega profits for shareholders who I imagine don’t buy & eat the crap they peddle.


  5. Many of us agree 100% with what you say. I am committed to buying local to not only support farming families but also because the food is so much better.


    1. I don’t tire of hearing consenus, thank you ☺ I get a little frustrated when I see consumers mindlessly opting for lesser supermarket offerings without understanding the big picture… I remember how it was when I was a kid in the 60’s & 70’s when we seemingly had less choice… no myriad of breakfast cereals but plain good real food wasn’t a specialty item, and our fresh food came from surrounding districts.


  6. We all need to do our part to make it a better world. I am really picky when it comes to good food. I am able to make the right choices and I am thankful for that. Keep uptake good work.


    1. Thank you. Even if people change one thing, and then maybe another it would make a difference. I can see change happening, often in response to product issues & food scares but I’d love to see proactive change where people reclaim their real food power… waving tongs and forks… Big Food get out of our kitchens we’re not gonna take your crap anymore, we’re gonna make it and bake it ourselves 😉


  7. Great post! I’m so glad there are people like you in the world (and more all the time it seems). May your tribe increase. 🙂

    I’m absolutely convinced that we can change the world by changing the way we eat. As Michael Pollan put it, we get to vote 3 times a day on the kind of world we want to live in.

    So, to use an expression from your part of the world (I think), “Good on ya!”


    1. Thanks mate… an appropriate Aussie response 😉
      I can see a slight & hopeful change… Big Food may have underestimated the attachment to certain values in the food culture, and their smoke & mirrors aren’t working to keep their real agendas and shonky tactics from becoming apparent.


  8. Dale, bravo for speaking out. I especially took note of your phrase “because it doesn’t agree with us.” My hubby & I are particularly sensitive and we can tell when “food” has been modified, adulterated, or messed with in some way (generally for quick sale and/or larger profits.) Cooking from “scratch” and being discerning (okay, picky, ha!) allows me more bang for my buck, and I don’t flinch one bit over buying what I want. Our bodies thank us for it. Way to go for telling it like it is!


  9. I bought the same Nowra cheese Ella. Love the way you buy locally sourced, ethical & sustainable food from your are – one day I hope to have that joy in finding local produce. It’s great to support your regions businesses. I congratulate you on the beautiful produce you purchase. What did you make with the buffalo? Lovely seeing your goodies for #IMK Ella, see you soon xx


    1. Thank you. Local cheese is in demand… we went to the G.O.’s cousin’s for lunch last weekend and she had the same Nowra cheese on a platter. It was lovely. I made delicious rissoles with the buffalo mince 🙂 The sausages will go on the barby.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ☺Such an awkward topic… don’t want to preach or be considered a “food snob”, only wish to inspire and offer alternatives to pervasive big supermerket culture… and their spin that convinces the time/money/information/family food history poor to leave it all up to them. Some times I feel like I should change my motto to “I remember”…

      Liked by 1 person

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