Wollongong City Council is trying to lead the Illawarra into a more sustainable agricultural future.
The council has attempted to bolster the local agricultural industry and self-sustainability as part of its Wollongong 2022 plan,
The council estimated the gross value of agricultural production in the Illawarra to be about $30 million, less than one per cent the state total.
“The pressures of expanding residential dwellings and the need for conservation are impeding expansion,” a Wollongong City Council spokesman said,
The coordinators of a Wollongong showcase food event said local produce was not taking pride of place on Illawarra plates.
“Few of the products in the dinner are necessarily local to Wollongong and even local seafood or produce will come via the Sydney markets,” Australian Wild Food Dinner coordinator Vic Cherikoff said.
He said the event menu boasted only two local sourced ingredients – Warrigal Greens and Illawarra Plum.
“This tends to be the way of it in food service as we do not have the village/community structures of Europe and our food service providers are all more concerned with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) procedures and food safety than eclectic, local produce supply to their clientele,” Mr Cherikoff said.
He also criticised government reluctance to pursue agricultural sustainability.
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The Australian Wild Food Dinner pairs wines from Australian regions with rustic bush flavours and is designed to inspire locals to create a unique regional flavour.
Food Fairness Illawarra said there needed to be an approach that included lifestyle, education and development to increase growth and knowledge of local products
Mr Cherikoff also said farmers markets were the best way to promote local produce.
“Growers can meet consumers and educate directly prior to selling their wares. Some growers might supply restaurants directly but this comes at a high cost in doing business,” he said.