A smokey haze blankets the Guatemalan mountains as we wind our way to Quetzaltenango (a three and-a-half hour trip west of Guatemala City), competing with the “wild” chicken buses for space on the road. As the vibrant red sun sets, we’re told that farmers are burning their sugar cane stubble in preparation for the wet season.
Imagine creating a nutritious and garden-inspired menu item for a well-known restaurant owned by a celebrity chef! This is exactly the opportunity that students in Los Angeles have thanks to the tremendous work of nonprofit organisation, GrowingGreat, which has now reached out to more than 250,000 children, teens and families across California.
On average food travels 1500 miles (2,500 kilometres) ‘from paddock to plate’ in the USA. However for at least 20 families, half an hour drive north of San Diego, it doesn’t. Tucked away in suburbia Encinitas, I was impressed by Coral Tree Farm. I’m not sure whether it was the vibrant native flame flowers, the heritage breed chickens scratching in the dirt or the fruiting mulberry tree that first caught my attention.
It’s hot, sticky and I have a trickle of sweat running down my back. The answer? A drink of mezcal of course. Central Americans not only invented chocolate but can also claim mezcal – the drink sometimes called tequila’s father – as their own. In the Oaxaca countryside, mezcal flows like water, agave plants scatter the land and mezcal-flavoured ice cream is more common than vanilla.
Australian wool shows up where you least expect it. As a country girl growing up on a fine merino wool property in the New England region of New South Wales, I was excited to find a master weaver in a rural area in southern Mexico using Aussie wool! “We use 60 per cent Australian wool and 40 per cent local wool to make our rugs,” says Oaxaca craftsman Nelson Perez.
Mexico City has it all. Lots of people (22 million), high altitude (the city sits 2,250 metres above sea level), plenty of Uber drivers, the Angel of Independence that overlooks passersby, an extensive range of tacos, chocolate and mezcal and more than 50 urban farms producing food for communities right across this bustling city.
There’s no ‘from paddock to plate’ experience quite like it. Seeing a group of children herd sheep down Vancouver’s streets as they learn about where food comes about. With mud on their faces and leaves in their hair, the kids pile around a campfire to toast marshmallows and talk about all the fun food education experiences they’ve had this Spring Break at the “farm”.