No place for supermarkets in a sustainable future


Mullumbimby’s fiery protest on Saturday aiming to keep Woolworths out of that town possibly appears quaint to those readers who embrace development. Residents of Ballina, Alstonville and Wollongbar probably have more sympathy with the residents of Narabeen, in Sydney, who have posted signs in their main street, “Bring Back Woolies” and “No supermarket is killing this town”.

When Frank Sartor’s Far North Coast Regional Strategy was released in late 2006, real estate agents and business groups across the region welcomed the focus on developing regional areas, especially in the hinterland. The region-of-villages approach taken by the NSW government, promised to put money into Casino and Lismore, creating a diversity of housing and employment opportunities.

I interviewed Nationals Ballina MP, Don Page, at the time. He was concerned that Sartor’s estimate of 60,000 new residents by 2030 is well short of the actual figure. He expects there to be closer to 100,000 new residents and is concerned at the lack of infrastructure, especially for the aged.

It has always been the case that some people are enthusiastic about development and others about conserving the status quo, but petrol prices and climate change put this debate in a special context.

The Mullumbimby protest is not just about corporate domination of the food supply, or the takeover of planning laws by a decadent State government. It is about survival.

How will regional Australia survive when petrol prices are $10.00 a litre? We drive everywhere.

How will anyone who shops at a supermarket survive when industrially farmed, frozen chickens that have been fed on manufactured feed stocks cost $40?

The solution is small, densely populated communities that can feed themselves.

By all means lets have a regional strategy that promotes a region of villages. But let’s make sure those villages can feed themselves, provide their own energy and water and re-use their own waste.

The four key principles to a robust, viable future are:

  1. Shop locally: Lower transport costs and keep the money in your community.

  2. Bake it, don’t buy it: Control your ingredients, avoid preservatives, packaging and transport.

  3. Grow your own: The home garden is a zero footprint food supply, that’s healthy to boot.

  4. Share generously: Spread the word. Build your community. You’ll need it soon.

For your own sake, don’t buy into the suburban dream of cars, supermarkets and packaged food.

It’s about to become a nightmare.

Giovanni will be discussing this topic on Bay FM 99.9 FM on Friday morning at 9.

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