My family and the farm have had the most outrageously fantastic summer! The heavens opened up and gave our earth the perfect amount of rain and sunshine, so we literally have grass ‘till the cows come home’. The veggies in the garden are plump, fat and seem to have grown legs and are marching their way to my chopping board, and my family had a wonderful, adventurous three-week vacation from all things hectic.
This year our summer holiday saw us rent a little house in French Polynesia. What a darling little place that was, such a laid back lifestyle surrounded by water, and culturally Tahitians are not too dissimilar to our own beautiful Maori, so we felt right at home. However, we did our research before we left and we were well aware that food was going to be extremely expensive, which is why we chose to smuggle in 50kgs of good Kiwi fodder (on ice in our luggage) including 50 sachets of instant porridge (wouldn’t want my family to have a mini meltdown without their morning oats now would I!).
As food producers, it is always interesting for us to analyse the cost of produce overseas and view their food production methods. This nearly always entails my husband dragging us along kicking and screaming to agricultural tours. Pineapple farming was (I have to say) remotely interesting for the first two hours, however after six hours clinging to the side of an old open 4WD drenched in sweat with a heap of whingy kids, my enthusiasm for this fruit waned! In terms of agricultural production, pineapples and pearls were about it. Such rich volcanic soils they have, but so little investment to help them utilise their land. It made me realise just how advanced and varied New Zealand is in the area of agricultural production.
Virtually all their food is imported and choice is fairly thin on the ground, but here’s the thing: I am the first to have a whinge at the cost of some fruit and vegetables here. ‘I mean for goodness sake’, I often bark at the price of my own lamb in supermarkets! But try and feel their pain, at $30 for a punnet of kiwi strawberries, $5 for a tomato, $10 for an ice-cream and $35 for a tiny watermelon! Wouldn’t take us long to blow our weekly food budgets at these prices (but pineapples are cheap!).
So it is with this experience that I have come home to New Zealand with a fine appreciation of the fruit and veggies we have here. My first visit to New World was like walking into Santa’s workshop, I just wanted to do the whole ‘zippity doo da’ thing down the veggie section! And although I am still on a high over being spoilt for choice in this country for fruit and veggies, it is, and will remain, my dream that one day fresh produce in this country will cost less than a fatty packet of chips! I know it sounds clichéd, but sometimes we have to go away to appreciate just how lucky we are.