A close up of a basket containing fresh fruits and vegetables

2021: The Year of Fruits and Vegetables

International Year of Fruits and Vegetables in 2021

From farm to factory to table
 Mel Bondfield

The United Nations has declared that 2021 is the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables.

To mark the occasion, our Food, Glorious Food curated collection looks at Australia's history of food production – from the paddock to the plate.

In the post-Second World War years, primary industry in Australia was flourishing – aiding a healthy economy and a booming population.

Australia's agricultural practices were a huge source of national pride for Australians, as our produce was exported to many other parts of the world.

Sunny Harvest (1959), made by the Commonwealth Film Unit, follows the journey of a seasonal worker as he experiences the processes of growing, canning and exporting some of Australia's finest produce:

Sunny Harvest (Director: John Gray), 1959. Commonwealth Film Unit. NFSA title: 25936

Farm work to Factories

Australia's food production didn't stop at fruit and veg.

As you'll see in Food, Glorious Food, canecutters in North Queensland carried out their back-breaking work in blistering heat, busy beekeepers in New South Wales were constantly on the move and, in the Northern Territory, the cattle weren't about to muster themselves!

Meanwhile, in the factories, Australian manufacturers were making use of the most cutting-edge equipment of the time.

A tour of this biscuit factory in 1951 shows ingenious machines churning out millions of biscuits, ready for the skilled workers to package up for distribution:

'Ingenious Machines Produce Biscuits by the Million', Australian Diary 46, 1951. National Film Board. NFSA title: 67216

The Greatest Show

Every year since 1823, Australians have come together to celebrate all of these rural practices at The Greatest Show on Earth, as we can see from this short film about the Sydney Royal Easter Show, made by the National Film Board in 1947:

'The Greatest Show on Earth', Australian Diary 6 (Director: Jack S Allan), 1947. National Film Board. NFSA title: 1398

Australians still take pride in our agricultural sector, nowadays hopefully with a deeper and broadening respect and understanding of the land through education and shared knowledge with its traditional owners

Explore more about Australia's food journey – and revisit some early advertisements for well-known food products – in our Food, Glorious Food curated collection.