Local Leader

“ Farming is innovative and fast-paced, it’s definitely also challenging – no two days are the same 
– Lauren
Good luck to Lauren Patane in the New Year. Announced as the 2023 Rural Ambassador for Western Australian at the Perth Royal Show this year, she will be representing us in the national award early next year. Participants in the award select one big issue when competing in the award. Lauren’s topic was farm food wastage. “It’s quite disturbing how much we throw away. We as farmers often say that it’s supermarket specifications that have a major impact on food waste. Supermarkets tighten specifications for produce intended for shelves, teaching consumers to expect a certain type of produce. If it’s not to specification – for instance, there may be a bend in a carrot or hollow stem on broccoli – supermarkets lead you to believe that people won’t buy it. I think it’s a bit of a cycle of consumers expecting the supermarkets’ version of ‘perfect’ produce because supermarkets put only products meeting their specifications on the shelves. At one stage, none of us really cared about any of that. However, when supermarkets can’t squeeze price anymore, they compete for an advantage with the look of produce.” What would be the answer? “Supermarkets would need to be on board and it would take a while, but we really need to educate the consumer on the effort that goes into growing food. Just because there’s a blemish, a mark or whatever, there's nothing actually wrong with it. For instance, this time of year broccoli has hollow stems. It’s because the sun’s come out, the plant has grown, but there hasn’t been enough growing time to fill out the stem. That doesn’t make it a bad product. That’s just the environmental growing conditions.” We wish Lauren luck at the national award!