Ooooby began as an idea in response to the overwhelming evidence that our modern industrial food systems are causing more damage than they are worth.

At the time I was in the industrial food business myself, importing frozen breads for distribution through Australian supermarkets, and making a decent profit for my part. It was only when I was confronted with information showing that I was participating in a system which was responsible for many of our social and environmental problems that I began to take a new path.

The shift happened shortly after moving from Australia to New Zealand in 2008. I had made the move with the intention of exporting New Zealand food to Australia and Asia.

Shortly after arriving in Auckland I attended a presentation by Sue Kedgley, a Member of Parliament with a particular political interest in food.
I imagined that the talk might have been about New Zealand's national strategy to develop their food export opportunities. Little did I know that Sue would soon introduce me to a whole new way of looking at the game I was playing so well.

Sue had recently returned from being the NZ delegate at the World Food Forum held in Rome, April 2008.

This was a high level conference attended by over 180 member countries in response to an accelerating increase of reports which suggested a global food crisis.

Sue presented credible evidence that we are in fact entering a global food crisis and that the globalised food system was doing a great deal of damage in the social, economic and environmental arenas.
As I sat in the community hall listening to Sue's talk, it occurred to me that the chronic ills of our current food situation were caused by models and systems that had been built by people, like me, in pursuit of an evermore efficient and lucrative way of providing food to the people of the world.

As you can imagine, Sue's presentation was not the sort of information that I was looking for. In fact, if I chose to acknowledge her information, it posed a dilemma for me. Do I ignore this information and put it down to leftist sensationalism or do I take the bait and look further into this inconvenient proposition?

After a few months of investigating the current global food situation, I became convinced that local food systems are the way of the future.

Failing to persuade my existing business partners to change course toward local food, I chose to take a leap of faith and embark on a new venture by starting Ooooby.

Over the course of working on Ooooby and its associated projects, I have come to understand a little more about the nature and state of our global food situation. In a nutshell, here is what I have discovered.


1. Our many diverse local food systems around the world are rapidly being displaced by a globalised and centralised food system.

2. Locally owned, polycultural farming has been diminishing at an accelerating rate over the last 30 years in place of large corporate owned monocrops. Locally owned food producers and retailers are also being displaced by the same system.

3. The Globalised Food System sees the world through a 'one big farm' paradigm. We grow all the oranges in Brazil, all the bananas in Ecuador etc. The ecological problem with this paradigm however is that our ecosystem is built to a certain scale. For example, bees can only fly so far and companion plants can only give benefit within a local proximity. So it doesn't work long term (or at least not until bees develop the wingspan of a 747).

4. The counteraction to the problems caused by this ecological imbalance is the use of petrochemical pesticides and fertilisers which are in turn causing untold environmental damage.

5. Local Food Systems are an integral part of the social and economic fabric of a region. So not only does a community lose its ability to feed itself, it also puts its economic welfare at risk. More and more countries are now finding themselves in the position where they can no longer turn back and they can't afford to keep going.

For all these reasons and more, I believe that we are at a point in time when we need to rethink and rebuild our food systems.

Long term provision of nutritious foods to every human is a vision that cannot be achieved by our current means.

To achieve this we need to relocalise our food systems by addressing our staple food provision at a community and regional level and to also support communities from all around the world to do the same.

The good news is that a global unified drive to rebuild our local food systems has been slowly gaining momentum over the last few years and is now expanding rapidly throughout the world.

Millions are returning to their own backyards and embracing the once declining skill of food growing.

World leaders including the Obamas and the Queen of England are heralding the need for us to get our hands back into the soil to provide the nutritious foods that have been so sorely lacking from our processed and packaged supermarket diets.

Ooooby is one of the many initiatives working arm in arm toward local food independence globally.

Ooooby is a lifestyle philosophy embodied in its acronym. It is a wholesome food lifestyle with family, neighbours and friends.

To join this fast growing network of people and to show your support of this vision come and join us here.

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Comment by Pete Russell on October 7, 2009 at 9:46pm
Thanks Helen. I intend using my experience to help build new systems among local growers and eaters. I know there is a long way to go but we have to start somewhere... and we will get there.
Comment by Helen Coyte on October 7, 2009 at 4:48pm
Very interesting reading Pete. I would be interested to know how you intend on using your experience and knowledge in the food industry to encourage local production and buying (other than ooooby, of course). There are still plenty of people out there who continue to buy out-of-season imported produce with no regard for consequences.

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