All the latest food news from this week
Making food news this week, the government has made progress on its long-awaited ag visa. The first country to sign up has been announced. Key horticultural players have also come together to boost the industry’s sustainability. In other news, Dietitians Australia has issued a grim warning, and a natural medicine college has revealed some of the oddest health trends on social media. Plus, a Sydney COVID side hustle hits the big time.
Ag visa signs its first partner
In welcome news for our farmers, the federal government has made progress on implementing the Australian agriculture visa, with confirmation of the first country to sign on as a partner. Vietnam has entered an agreement with the Australian government to opt-in to the ag visa, meaning workers from the south-east Asian country will be able to utilise the visa to work on Australian farms. They’ll provide growers with critical workers that will address the horticulture industry’s labour shortages in the medium and long term.
Hort industry unites for sustainability
Key decision-makers have gathered for a summit to discuss how the horticulture industry can be more sustainable, now and into the future. More than 50 industry representatives shared their sustainability journeys, including Sonja Cameron of Cameron’s Nursery in NSW. “Our philosophy is we have no right to pollute the land where we operate our business,” she said. “We are merely caretakers for future generations.” The summit will help inform a Horticulture Sustainability Report, due for release in October.
GrainCorp, CSIRO and v2food team up
A new research collaboration between the CSIRO, GrainCorp and v2food will build Australian manufacturing expertise for producing higher-value plant protein ingredients. The partnership aims to reduce reliance on imported ingredients. It’s great news for our farmers, and will also create jobs and add more value to grains and oilseeds so they can be used in new products. “Global consumer trends are driving demand for plant protein,” says GrainCorp Managing Director and CEO Robert Spurway. “We are well placed to participate in the plant protein boom. We’re confident the sector can comfortably co-exist, and indeed flourish, alongside our essential animal protein industry.”
Eating our way to a sick planet
We would need six and a half Earths to produce enough food by 2050 if the world were to adopt Australia’s eating habits. So says Dietitians Australia, which has released a position statement on healthy, sustainable diets. “Australia’s diet causes the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions of all G20 countries,” says Dietitians Australia CEO Robert Hunt. “Many of these foods are energy-dense and nutrient-poor.” Australia has among the highest rates of obesity, and 12 percent of Australians also have trouble affording or accessing food. Hunt says we need to shift our focus from producing more food; instead, we must concentrate on how to sustainably produce nutritious food that’s affordable.
April Fool’s Day is traditionally a day for pranks and jokes. Endeavour College of Natural Health used the day for something more serious. It’s launched a campaign urging Aussies not to be fooled by silly and sometimes harmful misinformation running rampant online. Using the hashtags #thisisnotajoke and #dontbefooled, the natural medicine college is encouraging Australians to be more discerning when scrolling through social media. Some of the more absurd trends that have gone viral could well seem like an April Fool’s joke.
1. Urine therapy: drinking your own urine to cure depression.
2. Magic dirt: eating “ancient dirt” to rid the body of toxins.
3. Blue vision diet: wearing blue-tinted glasses when eating to make food look unappetising.
4. Tapeworm diet: ingesting a tapeworm so you can eat what you want and lose weight.
Ducks dig deep
In response to the news of recent flooding across NSW and Qld, Three Blue Ducks will host a fundraising event on Wednesday, April 27, at its Melbourne outpost at Tullamarine’s URBNSURF Park. Three Blue Ducks chefs and owners Andy Allen, Mark LaBrooy and Darren Robertson will be joined by some of the country’s top chefs. They’ll be creating a special 10-course canape-style menu for the night. Guests will also be able to buy raffle tickets and go in a draw to win $15K worth of donated prizes. All proceeds will be donated to the Flood Relief Fund and Foodbank in Queensland. To book your spot, click here.
Melbourne Italian Festa
Doing anything tomorrow, Melburnians? Head on down to Argyle Square in Carlton for the free Melbourne Italian Festa. Celebrate Italian food and culture with live music, street theatre, food stalls, dancing, craft markets, exhibitions and more. This year, Johnny Di Francesco of Gradi Group will also join local nonnas for a pasta masterclass. They’ll be discussing pasta from different Italian regions and the history of each dish. They’ll also be sharing some of their own tips and tricks on which sauces pair best with which pasta.
From dough to whoah
A COVID side hustle for two Bondi cafe owners has hit the big time. James Meek and Cliff Baskin of Bennett St Dairy came up with the idea of selling cookie dough when they were forced to close their cafe. Bennett St cookies were already hugely popular with locals, and the pair’s Bennett St Cookie Dough made from unused dough soon garnered a cult following, going viral on social media. In great news for dough-lovers, the product is now in more than 600 Woolworths and 200 independent retailers. You can also buy it online.
The weight of food waste
The average household wastes 20 kilograms of good food every month. To help raise awareness of household food waste, HelloFresh challenged fitness expert and sustainability advocate Brooke Jowett to wear a bespoke “Weight of Food Waste Vest” for a day, to feel the burden of the food weight the average Aussie household wastes each month. “It’s an odd experience feeling the weight of food waste on your shoulders,” Jowett says. “Instead of mindlessly purchasing ingredients, it encourages you to think about food and cooking choices in real time, as well as the waste it could generate.”
Australian FODMAP-friendly business Fodbods has expanded its product range. Joining the line of protein bars are Fodbods Nibbles. They’re made from sunflower seeds and other plant-based ingredients such as chia seeds and buckwheat flour. They’re also free from all common allergens and certified FODMAP friendly. High in good fats and fibre, they’re an ideal snack for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or food allergies.
Also making food news this week…
We immersed ourselves in two of the world’s greatest comfort foods. Firstly, we dug into the fascinating story of potatoes. Then, we grabbed our chopsticks and chirirenge and slurped our way into some rich, satisfying ramen. Also, if you’ve been whipping up your own comfort food at home, you’ll be pleased to hear this news: cooking is good for your mental health! To inspire you in the kitchen, we shared two hearty recipes from a new Tibetan cookbook. Finally, we profiled Provenir, Australia’s only mobile on-farm meat processor.
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