As an eater your choices really matter and can have a huge impact. We’ve seen some amazing change to eggs for example because consumers want to know what type of life a chicken has lived – be it free range, caged or biodynamic. And the same goes for food waste. We wouldn’t see supermarkets and online grocery stores offering ‘imperfect’ produce if they didn’t think we would buy it.

It is really hard to value something that you can’t see, smell, touch or feel. The story behind your food very much falls into this camp. There might be a picture of a farm on the bottle of milk you buy, or maybe a picture of a wheat field on a loaf of bread or box of cereal, but mostly food labels and packaging doesn’t tell us the whole story of what it takes to get that bottle of milk from the cow to our grocery shelf. I know that the first time I met a dairy farmer, saw their farm and cows, went through the milk processing plant, I couldn’t get those images out of my mind the next time I went to buy milk. It was like the invisible had all of a sudden become visible. I now value Australian milk much more than before I had met that farmer. Now I’ll buy his brand of milk over the generic brand, even if it is more expensive, because it makes me feel good about what I spend my money on and what I am supporting in the world.

That’s why our aim is to grow a generation of young Australians who are thoughtful with the decisions they make around food. We achieve this by increasing the knowledge, skills and experiences young people have around the food they eat. We also achieve this by empowering you to have a voice in conversations that matter about food, being a leader in your community and being actively involved in food and agriculture, all the way from growing herbs in your backyard to thinking about being a farmer yourself.

We still believe the most powerful way to make a difference is to find a friend who cares about food as much as you. It might sound simple, but at the Youth Food Movement, it is the community that we’ve created around the things we care about that keep us living a more sustainable life. It is our friends who will share interesting facts about the world. It is our friends who will laugh with us when we get overwhelmed that the problems we’re facing are too big or complex. It is our friends who will nudge us to eat that new or strange vegetable that we didn’t grow up eating – I’m talking okra, snake beans or samphire. A good friend goes a long way to helping the environment.

Hungry for more? Hear our chat on ABC Radio about how food connects people and issues. Or find your food friends by volunteering with us!

Image credit: Julia Gove

Alexandra Iljadica