IS OUR APPLE INDUSTRY ABOUT TO CRUMBLE?

I love apples.  They are healthy for us. They come in their own sustainable (and edible!) packaging. We have a variety from which to choose, they are easy to store, and easy to grab one as a snack on the way out the door.


However, just this week I was alarmed at learning that our government has just given a preliminary green light to USA based apple growers to start importing apples into Australia

First and foremost, I believe we have sufficient apple growers in our country to cater to our current demands.  We also have sufficient land available should we feel the need to expand the quantity of apple growers here.  In my opinion, there is no need to import. 


The issues with importing are several.  However, of utmost concern to me are the pests and diseases that have been flagged as a high probability to be brought into the country as a result.  These pests and diseases may put our apple farmers (and other growers) at risk.  The Dept of Agriculture are pushing hard for tight biosecurity measures if and when the importation commences – does this mean the spraying of the fruit on its arrival into the country? That remains to be seen.  


It’s disappointing that our Australian growers are not more supported.  It would be great to see money invested into their businesses so they can continue to provide us the quality food they currently do. In Australia there are several hundred varieties of apples. Some of these varieties are not suitable for long term storage or transport so they will never be sold in retail outlets.  Still, that leaves a large variety of apples that could be revived and produced commercially.  At the very least some of these varieties can be grown in our backyards.  How cool would it be to grow a variety or two that people can’t purchase in the retail outlets, and be able to enjoy, as well as share amongst family and friends?

How can we support our local growers? 

Photo by Robert Wiedemann

All sellers of fresh produce (supermarkets, green grocers, etc) are required to display the country of origin on their produce.  This means we have a perfect opportunity to support Australian farmers and growers by only purchasing Australian produce.  If you can’t see Australian grown apples in your favourite retail outlet, please ask the cashier.  If they have enough demand for Australian produce, hopefully they will be encouraged to stock it over imported stock.  The most powerful way we as consumers can combat imported foods is to vote with your dollar.  Spend your money on products you would like to see here long term.  It is the strongest message we can send our government. 

Alternatively, seek out your local farmer’s markets and purchase direct from the local grower.

Also, check out Heritage Fruit Society and their range of heritage apples and other produce if you’re looking for something different.  They also hold events throughout the year.  You can also try the Heritage and Rare Fruit Network

The above photo is some of my autumn harvest of Golden Delicious apples, which I enjoyed well into the winter.

For more ways to increase your level of sustainability, check out the Sustainability365 online program, which offers support and accountability for you to achieve your sustainability goals.