DIVINE! GORGEOUS GARDEN BLING
Walk into a supermarket and you’ll see that corn is yellow, carrots are orange, beetroot is purple and they all grow in cookie-cutter uniformity.
Or, do they?
A few days ago a photo went viral on Facebook that told a different story – one many of us are eager to hear more of.
I was among over 10,000 people who “shared” a photo posted by a Mudgee, NSW, farmer of what at first glance appeared to be a shimmering beaded jewellery piece… but turns out is actually a rare variety of corn.
The story of the corn, aptly named glass gem, accompanied the photo and told how the seed had originated with a Cherokee man and had been stored and protected and recently planted out and “re-discovered” in the USA.
The response to the Facebook photo was phenomenal – thousands of instantaneous “likes” and nearly 11,000 “shares”, while the website of the farmer in Arizona, USA, who sells the seed crashed due to the interest shown.
So, why were so many of us so fascinated by a photo of a pretty vegetable?
Nick Ritar, from Milkwood Permaculture, south of Mudgee, whose partner Kristen Bradley posted the photo on their Facebook page after she discovered the US seed grower, believes the photo touched people’s desire for greater authenticity in food.
“When you first look at that photo it is beautiful, then there’s a realisation for people where it clicks: “That’s real.” This is a corn that’s been developed over thousands of years and there’s a level of connection running back through human culture,” he said.Indian Corn from Milkwood Permaculture.
“You can’t buy that at a supermarket. It’s not the latest trend or fad; it goes much deeper than that.”
The couple from Milkwood are on the frontline of a renaissance in food in Australia with their courses in permaculture design, traditional bee-keeping, organic gardening and natural building techniques in high-demand.
“Food is something we, as a western culture, do really badly. The way it’s being grown is not sustainable, ethical or ecologically sound,” Nick said.
“There’s tens of thousands of varieties of corns, same with tomatoes, but if you look in a supermarket you might be offered two or three varieties.
“The major supplier of seed to farmers in Australia offers less than 12 varieties of corn, and most of those are for animal feed.
“It’s about economy of scale. Economy of scale is always in competition with diversity. But there is a wave happening around the world where people are realising the overwhelming lack of ecological soundness of western culture. When you present people with a way to connect back with nature their passion is ignited.”
People started this journey with shows like MasterChef and now they crave those real ingredients and are seeking them out through food providores and farmers markets, Nick said.
“People want a story with their food,” he said.
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