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Category Archives: Env: Food Related

Reminder: Gourmet Garden Cook Off – One week to go!

Just a reminder about next weeks Gourmet Garden Cook Off:

I will be cooking / competing at Sydney Good Food & Wine Show on Friday 22nd June at 12:30 – 1:15pm. I will be on the Chopping Block Stand U20. Any of my readers planning on coming? Id love to meet you!

Anyone wanting a cup of sourdough starter (to get your own sourdough happening) let me know sometime in the next few days so I can get a jar going for you from my stock.

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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Env: Food Related

 

Free Ranged Eggs

You’ve heard me bang on and on about free ranged chicken and eggs. I’ve discussed the value of free ranged eggs for your health, animal ethics and the economy. To carry the label “Free Range”, producers must comply with a high standard of animal ethics and welfare issues resulting in a higher quality of product. Accreditation labelling ensures that producers are checked regularly for compliance to these standards giving consumers piece of mind.

Free range eggs

Free range eggs (Photo credit: Constance Wiebrands)

Today I wanted to share with you two issues facing Australian consumers but I thought I would share this fantastic chart to help consumers understand the difference between the different egg labels. Perhaps it will clarify some of the ethical issues regarding egg production.

In Australia, there are plans to change the standards for free range egg production from 1,500 chickens per hectare to an incredible 20,000 chickens. The proposed changes also want to restrict chickens to be inside for the first 25 weeks of life instead of being allowed to free range from 5 weeks.  This great article on The Conversation (New standards could make consumers chose between the chicken and the egg) helps explain the issues.

Chickens

Chickens (Photo credit: Allie’s.Dad)

As horrifying as these changes sound, it’s not too late for consumers to vote against the proposed changes. You can sign the Animals Australia petition entitled Don’t let ‘Free Range’ become ‘Factory Farmed and talk to your friends about it. Express your concerns via social media like Facebook to heighten consumer consciousness.

It is not impossible for consumers to stall horrendous political decisions. Just this week, Tasmania announced a ban on battery egg production in its state and has made moves to phase out stall pig production. What a fantastic win for animal ethics and consumerism! You can read about this victory on this ABC news feed and this National Newspaper article.

 
 

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Fruitos

I recently blogged about the delicious produce I recently got from Byron Bay Farmers Markets. That post lead to a wonderful exchange with regular reader, Ragamuffin. It turns out that Ragamuffin lives in Alaska. She related how farmers markets are not available for 8 months a year, and sometimes a trip to the produce store may be 6 hours long. I have never considered how difficult it would be for someone to get fresh produce living in such an extreme climate. I can not relate to that type of restrictions for fresh produce as it is such a huge part of our daily diet here.

Once every week or two, we order a $35 box of fresh produce from Fruitos Direct. On the off weeks, we visit farmers markets. In this way, we are able to access a wide range of local and state sourced produce. We specify what we would like in our Fruitos delivery, and I usually aim to get seasonal fruits and vegetables that the whole family will enjoy. I thought of Ragamuffin today as I unloaded my box. I wish everyone had fair and equal access to such gorgeous fresh produce.

 

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My humble garden

We live in a moderately sized regional town on the northern New South Wales coast of Australia. Our town boasts being the most easterly point of the mainland (at low tide) but Byron Bay, 30 km to the north is the widely accepted most easterly mainland point. We live in a small two bedroom apartment on the first floor. Our apartment block is situated on one of the busiest highways in Australia. A bypass for our town was opened in December last year, which thankfully has had a noticeable decrease to noise and pollution. Living in a small apartment means we have no real recreational space or garden, but we do have a sensational north facing balcony. All in all, I love where we live.

You may have caught my weekly photo challenge earlier this week. It was a photo of my garden. I’ve had to adapt to the lack of space and on mothers day last year, I started my humble little garden. It consists of used second-hand polystyrene boxes commonly used for transporting broccoli. We punched holes in the bottom of the boxes to ensure that there was good drainage. In the bottom of each box, I placed a few sheets of newspaper to stop the soil falling out. We purchased some cheap’ish potting mix from a department store and the rest is history!

Aided by the Gardenate Garden Calender which tells me what to plant at what times of the year, our veggie garden has become a reality. Last year we harvested bok choy, all manner of herbs, leeks, tomatoes, salad greens, and more. I have just planted our winter crops which I water daily. The baby leeks in my banner photo are actually from my garden! I have just planted our winter crop and soon we will be feasting on leeks, tomatoes, herbs (thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano), pak choy, pumpkins, salad greens, broad (fava) beans and capsicums. As a promise of things to come, my heirloom tomatoes produced four beautiful tomatoes ahead of schedule, one of which we picked today!

Stay tuned to this space… I hope to post some photos over time of how my organic crop matures!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Env: Food Related, Env: Sustainability

 

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Byron Bay Farmers Markets

Today Joe and I had the good fortune to venture to Byron Bay Organic Farmers Markets. Usually, we visit our local farmers markets, but we had heard that the ones at Byron was something special, and as it’s a neighbouring town, it’s not too far out of our way. And let me tell you, I am so glad we did make the trip! Yes, it was a little expensive compared to our regular markets, but wow! So much goodness in one place is well worth it. This is our grocery bag. You be the judge and see if you could call the price of our haul.

We got:

  • 500 grams free ranged pork loin chops from Sunforest Farms
  • 500 grams free ranged pork collar steak from Sunforest Farms
  • 280 grams goats cheese – lemon merthyl flavoured from Nimbin Valley Dairy
  • pepper pecorino from Bangalow Cheeses
  • 300 grams tempeh with fava beans and wakame from Byron Bay Tempeh
  • 500 grams brown rice from Nimbin Valley Rice
  • 3 large squash
  • 5 baby corn
  • 300 grams cherry tomatoes
  • 500 grams shiitake mushrooms
  • 250 grams Dutch cream mushrooms
  • 4 passionfruit
  • 2 punnets of blueberries
  • 1 dragon fruit
  • 1 star fruit
  • 5 bananas
  • 5 bunches Bok choy
  • 1 kilo Kipper potatoes
  • 3 large zucchini
  • punnet lettuce seedlings (not pictured)
  • punnet broad bean seedlings (not pictured)
  • punnet bok choy seedlings (not pictured)

Pinny is a local favourite with her produce, jams and preserves. She does can be found at both Ballina (Sunday am) and Byron Bay (Thursday am) Farmers Markets.

How much do you think this would have cost us? Go on, have a guess!  (Please put your guess in the comments section – I am actually interested in what you guessed!) This little bag of goodies cost $80. When assessing the value of these goods, there are a few things to bare in mind:

  • All of these products are fresh. They haven’t been bought in bulk, shipped to a distribution centre, spent a few months in cold storage and then put into retail outlets for the consumers. They were hand-picked within the last day or so.
  • All of these items are locally made. Purchasing these items supported the local economy, and supports local enterprise.
  • All of these items are organic. The carbon footprint of these products will be dramatically lower when compared to commercially produced alternatives. Additionally, organic farming practices are much more sustainable when compared to the alternative.

For most people (us included) this is not a weekly shop. We just couldn’t afford it on a weekly basis, but once a month, for one shop, it is definitely a more sustainable (and economically possible) option. For our family, the price / ethical trade-off is an acceptable justification. Remember what I said recently about you having an incredible weapon each time you shop? The choice is ultimately yours, and  a commitment to just one more ethical shop a month or switching to one organic brand per month is a huge step. So what are you waiting for? Find your local farmers markets, and check it out. You never know… you just might be surprised!

Ballina Farmers Markets (pictured) operate on a Sunday morning, from dawn to 10am.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Env: Food Related, Env: Sustainability

 

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So this Easter…

I just wanted to spend a few minutes to relay to you about our Easter purchases and hopefully influence any last-minute purchases today or for coming years.

Instead of buying Joes grandmother and mother the usual box of Cadbury Roses, we opted to purchase them a jar of Chocolate coated Macadamia’s from the Byron Bay Chocolate Company. The nuts are locally grown and the end product is also locally manufactured. Many towns have small hand-made chocolate businesses utilising locally sourced produce. Instead of supporting large commercial chocolate companies, opt to support small local business instead.

For quite some time now, Darrell Lea Chocolates have promoted their Save the Bilby agenda. According to the website, bilbies are a desert dwelling marsupial with large ears, light grey and tan fur and a very distinctive black and white tail. Of the six bandicoot species that once lived in the arid / semi arid areas of Australia, bilbies are the only species remaining. It has national conservation status and is currently listed as vulnerable. Purchasing this particular bilby shaped easter egg helps conservation efforts for one of Australias unique and threatened species. A gorgeous video of bilbies has just been published by the Guardian Newspaper UK.  If you must make purchases from larger chains, opt for one that has some sort of positive impact, such as the chocolate bilby.

As my regular readers are no doubt aware by now, I am fairly anti commercialism, because of its effects on the environment. The impact of Easter eggs for the environment is fairly huge. Most chocolates contain palm oil &/or sugar, and as such, lend to the clearing of wilderness for extensive palm plantations. Check your labels, and try to avoid contributing to this ecological disaster by avoiding products that are utilising palm products. Nestle, for example, are right in the middle of the palm sugar controversy. Consumer digression is advised. Remember: You wield a mighty weapon each time you visit the supermarket.

Easter eggs

Easter eggs (Photo credit: StSaling)

Another alterative is to skip the consumer based exploitations all together! Just this morning I stumbled across this wonderful post by Breanna Peterson Photography. Ry, the boy in question is allergic to eggs. His clever mum ordered in some ceramic eggs which they then died. He looks to have had an awesome time decorating the eggs. Hand blown eggs and egg decorating tips has been around for eons, and such traditions are being lost. I remember using autumn leaves, natural dyes, stocks and other fun stuff to make some awesome designs of hard-boiled eggs which we then took to school in our lunch boxes.  Why not do something special with your kids, and do some all natural dye eggs with leaf prints or flower prints. You just never know… you might also enjoy yourself!

 

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Kangaroo Meat – Environmentally Sustainable or Australia’s Shame?

Recently I promised to write an article about the kangaroo meat industry, and try to present a balanced argument trying to raise some of the issues regarding the industry to public awareness. I published the article on the weekend on my environmental blog The Environmental Rhi-Source. The article is entitled Kangaroo Meat – Environmentally Sustainable or Australia’s Shame? and as it relates to food products, I decided to do a quick post about it here to alert some of my food blog followers about the post.

Photograph by Ray Drew.

 

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