Over December I’ve been on long service leave with my family in Vietnam. We’ve just been to Can Tho on the Mekong River
to visit the famous floating wholesale produce market. That’s it in the pic above, if you are a vegetable logistics enthusiast it’s a must see. Later that day at our hotel while I was watching our kids swim in the pool I got talking to a young waiter called Khanh. Khanh was the first son of a rice farmer and had come to Can Tho to study and find work. The next night we all went out for dinner and learnt a little aboutKhanh’s life. Fresh out of university with a degree in tourism Khanh hoped one day to be a tour guide but for the moment was working two hospitality jobs (he also had a job at a local Burger King). He told me his wages were about $150 month, $50 of that going to pay for his room in a boarding house. Later when we went for ice cream I worked out the price of our 5 cones were equivalent to Khanh’s wages for that day.
Now Khanh isn’t badly off by Vietnam standards; he’s educated, well fed and clothed, has a steady income and good prospects. There are many people in his community living far more precarious existences but It just made me think that even if Khanh’s wage was tripled, he would never be able to make the equivalent trip and visit me in Australia.
And so more than ever around this time of year, when I’m usually jostling in a crammed shopping centre tearing my hair out trying to think of Christmas gifts for family members who already have every conceivable need and want satisfied, I know I should drop my first world frustrations and give thanks for how bloody lucky I am to live where I live, to have these opportunities to be able to get on a plane, to take my family to see a floating market in another country and meet a good person like Khanh who will never get to do these things.And in this week where all the evidence of our incredible material wealth is on full display I want to say a Christmas thanks on behalf of all the Fair Food crew (that’s them below). To all our farmers and grocery makers, thank you for feeding us so well. To all our food hosts, thank you for sharing your homes so selflessly. To all of our customers, thank you for all your support you’ve given us this year. And to all the people who gave to the Rewiring the Food System campaign, thanks for having faith in us. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and amen.
And lastly a special hello and a get better to Craig Heppell from Green Gully Organics who just go his appendix out – all our best Craig and I hope you get better in time for Christmas trifle.