Tag Archives: supply chains

Cooking up trouble

I’m having problems finding the ingredients for my cooking.  Having taken up doing occasional meals in the slow cooker I am enjoying trying out the various menus and making my small contribution to the running of the household.  But finding the right ingredients is a challenge.  I need a tin of whole tomatoes but the nearest supermarket doesn’t stock any, well not NZ made ones.  Plenty made in Asia and even the Watties ones, which I expected to be locally produced given HB’s agricultural base, were imported (from Italy).

I don’t go shopping at the supermarket with my wife very often because I used to be a grab the cheapest and run shopper.  Not the lady of the house though; she inspects everything and makes a real effort to buy NZ made wherever possible.  Now I’m all in favour of this and its good to know that the food on the table is not likely to be plagued (literally I suppose) with contaminants of some sort, but its a real challenge.

So where is this leading?  Down in Dunedin the forces are mobilising in support of the railway workshop people in an effort to retain their jobs.  The Hillside site was established in 1875 and has been responsible for making some of NZ’s iconic railway stuff but the proposed axing of jobs comes about because of the move to maintaining foreign built rolling stock.

Throughout the country we’ve seen the loss of jobs as companies have either moved their businesses overseas in search of lower cost manufacturing opportunities or they have closed up shop in the face of competition from cheap imports.  Some NZ businesses have managed to find a way to keep going and all power to them I say.

The people of Dunedin have the right to take up this cause on behalf of the people who face job losses and I wish them good luck in trying to achieve a good outcome.  But I wonder how many of them will, once they’ve been on the protest line for the day, hop in their foreign built car and drive to the foreign owned supermarket and buy imported food without even looking at the labels.  Every can or box of food made in China or Malaysia or Italy that they put in their supermarket trolley threatens the job of some other Kiwi.  But then we all want the cheapest don’t we, at least until its our jobs that are threatened.

It seems to me that this is another case of NZ’ers wanting it both ways (a subject I’ve blogged about before).  If we were really serious about keeping NZ jobs in NZ then we’d all be inspecting the label on everything we buy and wherever possible buying the one that says Made in New Zealand.  Unless we all do that then the situation in Dunedin will just be repeated elsewhere many more times.

Technology and Food

How will you cope if the supermarkets in your community are unable to open? What will you eat? An interesting question given that the people of Christchurch have been experiencing just that in recent days?

One thing I miss from my childhood is the easy access to fresh food that our family was fortunate to have. I was brought up on a small farm just outside Hastings where my parents grew crops for J Wattie Canneries. Peas, all sorts of beans, asparagus and tomatoes were staple crops along with peaches, sweet corn and potatoes. I enjoyed being able to pick vegetables and eat them fresh, nothing like what you now get in the shops. The tangy white juice from sweet corn eaten on the cob (raw) is never matched by the flavour of processed corn. Eating a tomato off the plant in the paddock is a treat and being able to pick and eat peas off the vine in the paddock is, well, probably what I miss most.

We’ve developed a society where we are so many steps away from our food that when disaster strikes we are not able to fend for ourselves. Vegetables and fruit in our local super markets is grown hundreds of kilometres away even though you can go down the road and see a farm that once grew these things now covered in grape vines. Tins of peaches and tomatoes on the shelves contain fruit grown in China or Spain or Australia, rarely these days in New Zealand and, I suspect, not here in Hawke’s Bay. Tinned apricots, once the hall mark of Central Otago, are now imported from overseas.

This food chain depends on technology in so many ways that when something happens to disrupt that technology chaos ensues and we are left struggling. The transport chain is now so extended that it is, in my view, fragile. I worry about current events in the Middle East and the potential impact they will have on oil supplies because they will translate into another oil shock and the resulting crisis for New Zealand will, in my view, be something we have never experienced before.

My frustration is that I don’t have a simple answer. The world isn’t simple anymore and while the idea of going somewhere remote and getting back to basics sounds appealing, it’s not a practical solution. Te Radar tried it but I can’t see myself coping anywhere nearly as well as he did in that situation.

From time to time I grow some veges in pots but I won’t survive long on what I produce

My Vege Garden

I think I’ll settle for checking the cans of food and bottles of water I’ve got stored in my emergency kit in the garage and continuing to hope that any disaster doesn’t last longer than my tolerance of baked beans and peaches.