27 Apr 2021

Moving New Zealand's food story beyond "a paddock in the ocean"

From Nine To Noon, 11:35 am on 27 April 2021

New Zealand's colonial history as "provider for the motherland" - especially during the World Wars - has left us without a 'food story' of our own, says Angela Clifford from the not-for-profit Eat New Zealand.

To create our own 'food story' that reflects who we are as a country, New Zealand food industry players need to pull together and better connect with what's original and indigenous to this place, she tells Kathryn Ryan.

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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

"There's some incredible stories that belong only to us as a nation, and what would it mean to stand in that space, to talk about those ingredients, those dishes, but most importantly that way of seeing the world, that perspective, and what might that offer us in our journey to a better food system?"

Until now, the food industry has been siloed into sectors with a lack of a collective cultural connection to Aotearoa's environment and landscape, Clifford says.

Māori knowledge and traditions should inform the development of a new, more equitable New Zealand food system.

"We're connected intimately to our natural world. We're not separate from it at all. And our ability to feed ourselves without exploiting our environment increases our mana."

Community gardens and collective ways of growing and finding food will be part of the solution - so we need to prioritise these as a society.

"What we eat is how we determine ourselves culturally and having access to foods is an important part."

A new self-developed, sustainability-focused 'food story' for New Zealand could then show the rest of the world who we are as a food nation, Clifford says.

"If we're saying that we're producing some of the healthiest food in the world we have to show that those health outcomes are in our own people … we have to be able to feed our own people our own food."

Angela Clifford will give a speech at the upcoming NZ Agri Food Week.