Fair young foodies


Connecting passionate young foodies, here’s the extended interview with Alexandra and Joanna from the Youth Food Movement from the current Feb/March 2012 issue of G magazine.


Alexandra Girdwood (left) and Joanna Baker (right), founders of the Youth Food Movement in Sydney, connecting young passionate foodies to help create a good, clean and fair food future.

Credit: Caitlin Howlett

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What is the Youth Food Movement about?
“We are a group of passionate young people who are keen to inspire and connect other young people across Australia to food that is good, clean and fair. So far we have held a number of unique and fun events to highlight and expose young people to some of the issues of social justice and sustainability surrounding food production and consumption. We hope to evolve as a platform where young people can find out more about food and sustainability. We also aim to advocate on behalf of 'youth’ by being a representative voice and ensuring we are part of the conversation when it comes to important policy decisions around our food supply. As a vision, we want to change the future of food and farming by creating a new generation of more conscious consumers who ‘live to eat’, not ‘eat to live’.”

When did the Youth Food Movement start, and what made you want to start it in Sydney?
“The Youth Food Movement is actually an international network which we decided to launch here in Australia in October last year. The movement began as a need to continue the important conversation about sustainable food production and consumption with young people. In Sydney this conversation was only happening among older age groups. Also, we were surrounded by amazing young people who were all interested in food, and doing great things in this area, so we gave them a place to talk and act on this.”

Where do you hope to see the movement in the future? In say, 1, 3 or 5 years?
“We would love to see the Youth Food Movement grow to be a strong, national movement here in Australia and our direction will be very much guided by those who are involved. We want to ensure we are a respected and valued voice on behalf of young people and that the movement is seen as a place where young people can get more information about eating sustainably and how they can get involved.”

What does sustainable food mean to you?
“We believe sustainable food is food that meets our nutritional needs, is culturally appropriate, available, accessible and affordable for all. Most importantly, it is produced in a way that has minimal negative impact on the environment and supports healthy ecosystems to ensure food is available for future generations.”

Complete these sentences:
- "Local produce is… a way for consumers to connect with and support the farmers who produce the food in their community. A local food system allows communities to take greater control over their food supply and can ensure farmers receive fair prices for their produce.

- All food should be… consumed consciously, and sustainably produced and consumed in EVERY sense of the words.

- One of the most memorable meals I ever had was…
[Jo] in Vietnam, when I stayed with a Vietnamese family in a rural village. It was incredibly special – I got to cook a traditional Vietnamese meal with the mother and grandmother of the family. We cooked by candle light, using chopsticks over an open fire. We made everything from scratch from produce in their village. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten and very much contributed to my love and value of food today.
[Alex] - When on a trip to Croatia, going to my fiancé's family's home unannounced and enjoying a long lunch where all foods, down to the wine and the olive oil, were produced by the family.

- For me, the easiest food to grow…
[Jo] are beans! You literally have to put a seed in the ground and 6-8 weeks later (with a little love and water of course) you have an abundance of deliciously sweet beans to eat and share.

- My biggest cooking disaster was…
[Jo] when I accidently blew up an egg plant in the oven! I didn’t think it was possible - you can imagine the mess!

- People can become more conscious consumers by… making food their priority. People can be more conscious by slowing things down and making their choices intentional. It’s about knowing what food is good for you, if it is clean for you and the environment and if it has been produced in a way that is fair for our farmers.

- My all-time favourite sustainable food is…
[Alex] anything my Nanna makes, particularly her cucumber salad produced from her garden.

- My one wish for food security is…
[Alex] that the word is used in a standardised way in differing contexts. Be it in an economic, environmental or health context, if we are all on the same page, progress in this area is possible.

- My nana taught me…
[Jo] you should know all the ingredients in your food. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!
[Alex] a vegetable garden is more important than a swimming pool - they only had room for one in their backyard and got rid of the pool without question (even after my cousins and I whinged about it!)

- Wasted food is…
[Alex] a great tool for our use in tackling food insecurity and the development of (global) sustainable food systems.

- I’m happiest when…
[Jo] sharing a home cooked meal with family and friends and discussing how it’s been made and where the produce has come from.
[Alex] I see young people engaged and aware of the flow on effects of the food choices they make - on their health, on the economy and on the all the individuals involved in the food system."