Welcome to my blog on Food Innovation. My name is Anne Elliott. I have been an activist for animals and the environment just about all my adult life, but now with an increased sense of urgency. I am not alone. Many of us have been working for animals and the environment for literally decades.
I grew up in South-West New South Wales, Australia, in a farming region and from a very young age, felt at odds with the way animals are often treated. There has always been this strong connection with animals and nature. It endures to this day!
In my professional life, I became a teacher working in Technical and Further Education initially, before later doing further study in order to teach students with learning disabilities. In more recent years, I have been working in Tourism and Hospitality - especially in my role as Convivium Leader, Slow Food Blue Mountains,(global, eco-gastronomy grassroots organisation, founded in Italy and now in 160 countries) for around 13 years and only relinquishing in 2019. In and around working life, home life and commitments, it seems there has always been a compaign or project to create, organise, or get involved with.
What all of this has taught me is the power of grassroots action, the power of a handful to become multitudes and the power of creativity, which of couse is free! All real change happens in the grassroots. It sets the agenda. Business and later governments, follow.
I have lived in the magnificent World Heritage Blue Mountains Australia for over 30 years. About 2 hours west of Sydney by sustainable rail travel, it has been a fertile breeding ground for all sorts of grassroots endeavours! Not only is the landscape, complete with rolling mist and mountains so old they were ancient when the Grand Canyon was being formed, a continual source of inspiration, it has also attracted artists, writers, poets, progressive thinkers, resulting in a very strong, robust and stimulating community. It's the kind of place when out walking, as many of us do here, you catch up with people you know, or incidental 'networking' just happens - with critical people for the latest 'project'! We do love to talk, and I enjoy this very, very, much!
Visitors to our region might be amazed to find that our villages, each with their own particular character, have varied cafes and restaurants (you can eat around the world!) are generally devoid of 'monoculture chains': This did not just happen. Our community consistently worked for this over many years. In 2007 we were declared a Cittaslow (Slow City) Katoomba Blue Mountains, after lodging a detailed submission to Cittaslow International Headquarters in Orvieto, Italy. It was prepared by a panel of active local residents, covering such areas as infrastructure, environment, hospitality and community,use of local products and produce.
We were one of the first regions to ban wild animal circuses through persistent grassroots action (thank you Blue Mountains City Council!) and together with residents in Penrith, our community campaigned successfully to stop the sale of dogs at Penrith Pound being sold for 1c for animal experimentation. This was a campaign created by me early on in my activism as a Committee Member of the then newly-formed Australian Association for Humane Research.
Fast forward to January 2019 and a very hot Summer in Katoomba, with temperatures day in and day out well in the 30s. I had never felt a Summer here like this: Too hot to think almost, but think (and read) I did. I read about the exciting area of Food Innovation of what I call these 'new era' plant based meats and clean meat, and became very excited. For years, there had been no real mainstream alternatives to industrial animal agriculture and the slowly unfolding tragedy of continuing decimation of our planet. Now we had them: I felt compelled to get involved and so Food Innovation Blue Mountains was born! I invite you to come on this journey with me. We are all in this very serious situation together and together we must talk and make changes. Time is of the essence if, as it is said, we have around 10-12 years to put in place the critical necessary changes. I still believe in humanity enough to know we can do this: We have the tools, we know what needs to be done, we have the power of being able to communicate very quickly and access information. We are at a crossroads for our planet, and the other option of simply doing nothing, is not even a consideration. I invite you to come on this journey with me - in your communities!
"As everything struggles to live, everything is worthy of respect and consideration"