Tasmanians are not eating enough fresh fruits and vegetables, despite growing some of the best produce in Australia.
University of Tasmania Centre for Rural Health postdoctoral fellow Dr Katherine Kent used Agfest as the place to pilot a survey on the produce patrons were buying and where.
“We know that Tasmania grows the best produce, perhaps in Australia, but Tasmanians have the worst health outcomes. It’s a terrible paradox,” Dr Kent said.
“How can we be growing the best food, but have the worst health outcomes?”
The other half of this equation is why Tasmanians are not eating produce grown in the state.
“We are trying to figure out why people are, or are not, accessing and consuming Tasmanian-grown produce,” she said.
Dr Kent and her team and the centre want to increase the number of Tasmanians who consume state-grown produce, and think this research will help.
“We have such a strong, vibrant food economy and it is important to maximise this for people living in Tasmania, especially because there could be many positive health outcomes,” she said.
Up to 30 per cent of Tasmanians have poor access to healthy and affordable food, which costs the state $60 million in health care each year.
“The findings will be used to inform future research projects and the development of policies around increasing fresh food consumption by Tasmanians which improve health outcomes,” Dr Kent said.
How can we be growing the best food, but have the worst health outcomes?Dr Katherine Kent
The survey Dr Kent piloted at Agfest is divided into two parts, with the first asking participants about shopping habits and barriers preventing fresh produce access.
The second has a questionnaire asking what fruit and vegetables are consumed, how often, and what proportion is Tasmanian-grown.
“Agfest attracts a broad variety of people, and we hope to get interesting, honest and relevant responses that will guide this research,” Dr Kent said.
The research is the next step in a number of projects led by the centre’s team exploring food availability cost and affordability.
Findings from the research the team collected collected during the Agfest surveys will feature in a future academic publication.