Local food news: all the latest
In food news this week, a Polish-born Australian cooks up a way to raise funds for Ukraine, and the humble ham sandwich finds itself in the middle of a fierce debate. On the food festival front, there are some cracking events coming up, so we share a tantalising taste of what’s on offer. Also making food news this week, South Australian researchers discover a microorganism that could bolster our future food supply, and Melbourne researchers make a startling discovery in the supermarket meat aisle.
Cherries a sell-out success
In great news for our growers, a targeted campaign across Vietnam and Malaysia featuring luxury, ribbon-handled gift boxes filled with premium Australian cherries has resulted in close to 4000 boxes sold… and consumers wanting more. The inaugural effort between Taste Australia – a joint initiative led by Hort Innovation with Australian growers and Austrade – and five importers was timed to support sales activities in the lead-up to the Lunar New Year peak season. Import partners have requested a larger supply next season.
A marine microbe found in South Australian waters could prove to be a vital ingredient in our future food supply. Flinders University researchers say thraustochytrids (a group of marine microbes found in SA) may be useful because of the omega-3 fatty acids in their lipid profile. This can be extracted through a fermentation process and used to produce nutritional supplements and even animal-free meat. The microbes also produce a number of other bioproducts that can be used in a range of industries; they could be used to produce medicines, vaccines, cosmetics, aquaculture feed and biofuels.
Study sparks superbug fears
In scary food news, a study commissioned by animal rights organisation World Animal Protection and undertaken by Monash University has found high levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in beef and salmon samples from Australian supermarkets. The samples came from Coles, Woolworths and ALDI stores in Melbourne. Fifty-three percent of beef samples and 39 percent of salmon samples were found to harbour resistance to a range of “medically important” antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is a growing global problem, leading to more than one million deaths per year. Food Standards Australia New Zealand will begin monitoring antibiotic resistance in Australian food this year as part of a new study.
Price hikes raise health concerns
Each year in Australia, 27,500 people will die a preventable death due to unhealthy eating. Dietitians Australia is warning the federal government that Australia’s diet-related health crisis will only get worse as the nation struggles to afford fresh, nutritious food. The warning follows a Consumer Price Index report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing a 12.7 percent year-on-year increase in the cost of vegetables. The cost of dining out and takeaway has increased by just 2.6 percent. “A box of 10 chicken nuggets from a fast-food outlet is currently cheaper than an iceberg lettuce,” says Dietitians Australia CEO Robert Hunt. “Who would blame a family for choosing one over the other?”
Pierogi for peace
Poland has responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine with outstanding generosity. The Ukraine neighbour has taken in millions of refugees. Anna Christensen of tech specialist NEXTGEN Group has been inspired by news of her birth country’s remarkable efforts, planning her own remarkable effort from Australia. Together with Christensen’s husband, Sydney chef Kasper Christensen, NEXTGEN will be cooking up 2000 pierogi (Polish dumplings) on May 9 to raise funds for medicines to be sent to a hospital in Drohobycz, Ukraine. To buy pierogi and help this worthy cause, head to nextgen.group/pierogiforpeace.
Scenic Rim Eat Local Week
The 11th Scenic Rim Eat Local Week is biting into a second decade of celebrations with more than 125 events at 42 locations. Held from June 25 to July 3, the event stretches across the region, from Beaudesert to Beechmont, from Kerry to Kalbar and from Mount Alford to Mount Tamborine. The program includes a line-up of long lunches, flavour-filled dinners and degustations; food walks, tastings, tours and talks; and masterclasses and workshops. To check out the full schedule of events, head to eatlocalweek.com.au.
Heritage Harvest Weekend
Ballarat’s iconic living museum Sovereign Hill in Victoria will transform into a two-day foodie festival on the weekend of May 28 and 29. Heritage Harvest Weekend will celebrate the vibrant autumn harvest and showcase age-old techniques for growing and preserving seasonal food brought to Australia by diggers from around the world during the gold rush. Visitors can immerse themselves in the practices of fermenting, drying, salting, curing, pickling and distilling through a series of pop-up food and market stalls, events, demonstrations, masterclass, workshops and hands-on activities. Book your spot here.
Bon Fromage, the festival of European Cheeses, is returning to Sydney this June. To be held over the weekend of June 3 to 5, the program includes a stinky cheese market, wine and cheese pairings and a gigantic French cheese buffet. Top chefs and cheesemongers will also be on hand to showcase the best of French cheese. A free event, Bon Fromage will be held at the Cargo Hall of the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal. Just follow the smell!
Ham sandwiches are a lunchbox staple around the world, but not everyone is a fan. The Cancer Council recently distributed information to parents of NSW schoolkids, encouraging them to “ditch the ham” due to the potential bowel cancer risk associated with processed meats. The news led to outrage among ham-loving Aussies across the country, including Today host Karl Stefanovic, who slammed the warning as being “woke” and “an overreaction”. However, the World Health Organisation classifies ham as a Group 1 carcinogen, which means there’s strong evidence it causes cancer.
Thanks for NUFFIN
Victoria’s NUFFIN has released an Australian-first: a preservative free dip range that’s packaged in a fully commercially compostable paper tub. According to NUFFIN founder Haydn Scott, at our current recycling rates, approximately 2000 tonnes of plastic from Australian supermarket dips goes into landfill and into our waterways each year. NUFFIN has set itself a target to reduce this by 25 tonnes by 2025. It has also plans to diversify into other food categories. To check out the range and where to buy, head to nuffin.co.
Also making food news this week…
There’s a lot of noise around the benefits of intermittent fasting and weight loss. But this week, we discovered that eating rhythms can affect your mental health, too. Also on the health front, we met the founder of Eat For You – a small Australian health food company that’s giving back in a big way. In hyperlocal food news, we showcased the award-winning Willunga Farmers’ Market, and in plant-based food news, we shared two tasty meat-free recipes for No Meat May. Finally, in rather more indulgent food news, we brought out the blinis and dipped into the delicious world of roe.
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