Australian Sustainable Food, Environment, & Social Systems 2015

Blog site for the 2015 MSU study abroad program.

6/7 – Joey

Day Leader Blog

G’day mates!!
My name is Joey Leider and I was day leader for June 6th. Since it was our last free day we wanted to make the most of it and have a lot of fun while learning a whole lot about the city of Cairns and how they work to be sustainable. We started our day off with a really good breakfast at the hotel and then headed into the city.
The first thing we did in the city was head to the lagoon. Unfortunately, there is no beach in this area. Instead there is a huge saltwater pool that is surrounded by sand that anyone can swim in. It’s a really cool concept to me and hanging out at the lagoon is a great way to spend the day. After a quick dip we decided to lay on the sand and soak up some sun. We made sure to use sunscreen to protect ourselves from the sun’s harmful rays. This is very important because Australia has a very depleted ozone layer which means that more harmful UV light can enter and harm your skin. The ozone gets destroyed when fossil fuels enter the atmosphere which is why it’s so important for us to conserve energy and look for clean energy sources. The following link has lots of information about how you can protect yourself from the sun!

The beautiful salt water lagoon in Cairns

The beautiful salt water lagoon in Cairns

Maintaining a healthy ozone layer is essential for keeping not only humans safe but also the plants and animals that inhabit the earth. This link has lots of information of what you can do to help conserve and keep fossil fuels out of the atmosphere so that the ozone is not depleted anymore.
After all that activity at the lagoon we worked up quite the appetite and decided to get some food. We chose a small, Mexican-style restaurant called Zambrero. The food was fantastic but what really made the restaurant great was that all the ingredients they used at this location are locally bought. This means that the ingredients they use were not imported from far away places. The owner of the store said that he thinks buying locally is important for two main reasons. The first being that when you buy locally, it doesn’t have to be shipped as far which means that less fossil fuels have to be burned to get it there. This helps protect that ozone that we were talking about earlier. This website will tell you all you need to know about the importance of the ozone  The second was that when you buy locally, you help support the local economy. Buying food local can really help make a more sustainable food system.

Delicious burrito bowl and napkin made from recycled paper from Zambrero

Delicious chicken burrito bowl and napkin made from recycled paper from Zambrero

A funny thing I noticed about the bathroom in this restaurant is that the sink and mirror are both located just outside the actual bathroom away from where the toilet is. I’ve noticed this a lot in Australia so I reckoned that I would ask what the reasoning behind that was. They said it was in an effort to increase the hygiene. I thought it was really interesting and I wonder if this will ever be implemented in the Untied states. It seems like a really good idea to me!

This restaurant is doing a lot of really good things for the environment and local economy but in my opinion the coolest thing that they do is their Plate 4 Plate program. This is a program where every time you purchase one of their burritos or bowls, they help provide someone in need with a plate of food. This franchise really works a lot to help people in need. I think that this is a really important thing for businesses to do and really can create a sustainable society by feeding those in need. Here’s a link to their website where you can learn more. I’d also highly recommend eating there if you can find a location near you, the food is incredible!
After that delicious meal we headed to get some dessert because what’s a good meal without some dessert to top it off? We noticed a very interesting gelato shop called Nitrolato. When we saw strange steam rising out of bowls that had gelato in them we had to go check it out. It turns out this shop uses liquid nitrogen that is negative 333 degrees Celsius to freeze your ice cream. So after you order, you can literally see your ice cream being made right before your eyes. The flash freezing that happens because of the cold liquid nitrogen creates very small ice crystals and give the gelato a very smooth texture that is amazing!

The group enjoying some of their delicious Nitrolato

The group enjoying some of their delicious Nitrolato

And don’t worry, the liquid nitrogen is completely safe. Did you know that 78% of the air you breath is nitrogen?
After our amazing dessert we headed over to the art museum to go check out some cool artwork. The artwork was amazing and it was incredible to me how some of these sculptures were made by hand. Here’s a picture of one of my favorite pieces. It was made in 1970 by Obery Sambo, an aboriginal man from Murray Island. It is called Nam a Bezaim Le Op Nog which means Spirit taking the form of a shark or turtle. It represent loved ones that we have lost that give us strength (form of a shark) or defense (form of a turtle). This one really spoke to me because I like the idea that loved ones are watching over us and helping us in our endeavors.

Nam a Bezain Le op Nog: the aboriginal artwork made by Obery Sambo

Nam a Bezain Le op Nog: the aboriginal artwork made by Obery Sambo

The best thing about the Cairns Regional Gallery is that it is an independent, not-for-profit organization. It’s goal is to present inspiring art and providing affordable learning programs while also caring for collections of artwork that have particular cultural significance to their region. They know that appreciation for culture is very important in sustaining that culture and that art is a very important part to get people to appreciate it. If you’re interested in helping out or just want to see some cool art, here’s the link.
One thing you can’t help but notice in Cairns is that most trash cans were coupled with recycling bins. This really makes an impact on sustainability because so many things that would usually be thrown away by shoppers can be recycled and stay out of a landfill. Recycling is very important for the environment and economy because it reduces the amount of trash that goes into landfills and many products can be made from these recycled materials. The next time you go shopping you should look for products that use packaging that is made from recycled material to try to be more sustainable! This website has a lot of information on what you can do to recycle and how you know what can and can’t be recycled! I think that having recycling bins in the street is a great thing and I hope they start popping up in the United States so that we can work to be more sustainable. Here’s an example of this at a local restraint.

Trash can and recycling bin paired with each other at a restaurant in Cairns

Trash can and recycling bin paired with each other at a restaurant in Cairns

If you walk down along the ocean in Cairns you would notice a lot of these out door fitness centers. I think these are really cool because it gives people a really good way to work out for free. They can also enjoy the fresh air and sun while getting fit. Studies have shown that working out can improve both physical and mental health. Here’s a link that can give you tell you all about that great benefits of exercise. Having a healthy and happy population is very important to sustainability. I think it would be really good if these free, out door gyms starting popping up in America! The mayo clinic is known for their extraordinary research and have a lot of information that can help you out!

One of the many fitness centers along the beach of Cairns

One of the many fitness centers along the beach of Cairns

The views that you can get in Cairns are absolutely amazing. Here’s a picture of Annie soaking up the sun in front of a beautiful rainbow.

Amazing rainbow dominating the skies in Cairns

Amazing rainbow dominating the skies in Cairns

I think this pictures really gives you an appreciation for the beauty of Mother Nature and it should motivate you all should do your best to protect our earth!

After such a long day of walking around Cairns we worked up quite the appetite. Luckily we were able to get a reservation at a renowned local restaurant: Cock and Bull. I ordered the kangaroo steak. Partly because it is delicious, but mostly because I learned that the kangaroo population has been getting too high in Australia. Because there are so many of them they have started to become pests and negatively affect the ecosystem that they inhabit. It’s really important to think about what kind of meat you are eating when you order at a restaurant. Before going out you all should do a little research on population size and determine which meats you should choose and which ones you should stay away from. The food was amazing and we finished it off with an incredible dessert that is known as Death By Chocolate. Here you can see some of the lovely ladies preparing to devour it.
The incredible Death by Chocolate dessert waiting to be eaten

The incredible Death by Chocolate dessert waiting to be eaten

We noticed that the restaurant was relatively dark. When I asked one of the worker why this was so, she said that they do it to set a calm mood and also as an effort to conserve energy. It really is amazing how restaurants in Australia work to try to be sustainable. I think it’s something that we can learn from and try to implement in our hometowns!

The free day in Cairns was really fun and we learned a whole lot about sustainability. There are a lot of things as Americans that we learned to help make our home towns more sustainable. I hope you all learned a lot and had a great time reading!


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