Eating Democracy

AFSA’s newest book, Eating Democracy follows in the footsteps of Farming Democracy. Want to get your hands on it? Get your copy here >

Get ready for AFSA’s next book, Eating Democracy: The True Cost of the Food We Eat, which is officially launching on 21 October at an event with Costa Georgiadis at SAGE (Brinja-Yuin Country, Moruya NSW). AFSA has managed to crowdfund over $33,000 to help cover the publishing costs and would like to thank everyone who pre-ordered their copy of the book for supporting the work that we do!

If you missed out on contributing to the Eating Democracy crowdfunding campaign, no worries! You can grab a copy of the book here. If you’d like to learn a little bit more about Eating Democracy, keep scrolling to find out more about the stories of eleven inspiring eaters featured in the book.

About Eating Democracy

The recent challenges of Covid-19, fire, floods and rising food prices shine the light on the lack of resilience in our food system. From issues of food security, scarcity and bare supermarket shelves during the Covid-19 pandemic, we see many eaters struggling to put food on the table due to rising costs.

“The impact of these natural disasters have put pressure on our local farmers. We continue to support them and feel their hardship. There isn’t the volume or variety available but always grateful for what they have. We still primarily eat what they grow. And we have a market gardener growing some produce on our property.”

“Covid impacted my partner’s work. Food prices have changed the way we shop, but I’d say in a good way. We rarely shop in supermarkets now- sourcing food from our local farmers market, butcher and bakery. We have invested a lot in our veg garden and planted a small fruit orchard.

“Price is an issue. I avoid big supermarkets, we’ve got a local IGA that sells cheap second rate fruit and vegetables, local co-op supplies food in exchange for work, some bin diving and some homegrown veggies.”

This is an important book to activate change in our broken food system, from the ground up, giving eaters the ideas, tools and inspiration to take back control of their own food system.

With a foreword written by Alexx Stuart (Low Tox Life), Eating Democracy tells the stories of eleven eaters doing things differently. People who not only care about leaving the planet better than they found it for generations to come, but who have worked out ways they can individually and collectively have an impact.

Everyone eats, so capturing the diversity of eaters was important to this project. Our eaters come from diverse backgrounds and locations. Some of them are city dwellers, others remote, some on low incomes, single or with large families to feed. Some are students, others work in hospitality or the arts, are academics or have professional careers. Some are couples with more choice, higher incomes, or living in areas with more choices. They have different skills and access when it comes to food. However, the eaters in this book share a common theme of helping to transform the food system as individuals determined to make a change. No matter their location, family situation, education or income, these are eaters who care about the food they consume, where they source it from, how it is grown, prepared and eaten.

Caley provides a First Peoples perspectives and the challenges of taking back food sovereignty when they have been dispossessed from their Traditional Lands. Caley is committed to looking at ways that food creates opportunities to reclaim and heal fragmented ecosystems of care: for food, Country and people.

Some have a focus on doing it themselves. Simon and his partner Cassy have recently purchased their own block of land, are advocates of permaculture, already growing much of their own fruit and vegetables as well as honey and eggs. They buy meat directly from local farmers and have been members of community-supported agriculture systems. They eat seasonally and incorporate a more Asian style diet due to the tropical climate and availability of local food. The long term plan is to integrate more animals into the system for meat, preferring ethically raised, quality meat over quantity. He’d love to see the return to a bartering economy.

Olivia is renting but has a dream of a place of her own, working together with others in a community setting to grow their own food. She spends a lot of time learning about food abundant in the local area so that she can forage, as well as identify foods in her share-house backyard. Along with her partner who lives on a nearby suburban block they grow a significant number of herbs and leafy greens in a small area.

For Hannah and Sharolyn the challenges of bringing up families highlight the importance of food and health but also touch on the limitations of time, finance and access. Hannah’s remote Northern Territory location means accessing fresh seasonal food is a challenge and food shortages are increasingly common. Sharolyn juggles a larger family and finances with her husband working two jobs, she buys as locally as possible, accesses a Community Food Bank and is famous among friends for rescuing food from dumpsters too.

Ashley and Olive connect to the community through food and have experienced major impacts of bushfires and flooding, they see the social importance of food in their local area and describe their experiences. Both have been involved in food relief programs in times of disaster. Olive buys through a Community Supported Agriculture scheme, but highlights the difficulties of accessing medicinal, culturally appropriate and nourishing food. Ashley started a hobby garden and is keen to learn ways to be more self-sufficient when it comes to growing her own food. She is passionate about community-led, social transformation.

There are political and social angles to food and systemic change in the chapters contributed by Jessie and Vicki. Jessie doesn’t drive, adding an extra element of challenge to food sourcing, she is committed to sourcing ethical and local food from a health perspective, due to previous downward addiction spirals. Jessie shops primarily at the local farmers markets, and has recently become immersed in food sovereignty through her work with AFSA. Vicki is a city dweller who has been actively and passionately involved in food sovereignty as well as food and feminism for some years, she sources a lot of her food from the community garden and grows more at home in her small urban garden.

Others are deeply involved in food system transformation at the grassroots level, having grown from an individual perspective to being part of collective, community systemic change such as Ruth and Lucy. Ruth has her own small food business and has been involved in setting up both farmers markets and a multi-farm produce box and food hub in New South Wales’ South East bioregion, With a background in health, she has a big focus on growing, cooking, preserving and feeding healthy local food to others.

Lucy is a former chef, now food writer, who deliberately makes time in her life to be involved in local food growing, sourcing and sharing. She is involved with the ACT Food Coop at the Australian National University as well as growing in her rental apartment complex.

They are Eating Democracy and these are their stories.