News bites: Christmas goodies & more
With only a week to go until Christmas, there’s still a lot of food shopping to be done. So this year, make sure you choose Australian. If it’s produced in your local area, even better. Shortening your festive food miles is the best gift you can give our planet this year. Also in food news this week, a new project is perfecting Aussie fruit, Australian manuka honey has a win in the courts and Australia’s greatest fish & chips shops have been crowned.
Choose Aussie oysters this Christmas
Australians are being urged to put locally grown oysters on their Christmas table this year and support an industry that’s been hit hard. NSW Farmers Oyster Committee Chair Todd Graham says the industry is still grappling with the impacts of bushfires, floods and a COVID-induced downturn in hospitality and tourism. “A seafood Christmas is a favourite for many Aussies; having oysters is a no-brainer,” he says. “There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the oyster industry. We look forward to finding some semblance of normalcy. In the meantime, we really encourage Aussies to make oysters part of their Christmas festivities.”
And choose Aussie ham, too
A recent study by Australian Pork Limited found a staggering 76 percent of consumers thought they were buying Australian ham when really the products were made using imported meat. Often, the only Australian-grown ingredient in a packet of ham is the water and brine used for curing. But despite this, the packaging includes the iconic kangaroo logo. To make sure you’re buying Australian-grown ham, you need to check the bar chart that appears under the kangaroo logo. This shows the portion of ingredients grown in Australia. The less shaded in the bar chart is, the less the amount of Australian ingredients used. To be sure you’re buying Australian-grown ham, it needs to be 90 percent or higher.
A sweeter future for Aussie fruit
Fruit that tastes, smells and looks delicious every time could become a reality through a new $7M sensory genetics program. Delivered through Hort Innovation, the research will initially focus on papaya, strawberries, mangoes, pineapples and passionfruit. As part of the project, a team of consumer, sensory and molecular scientists will work to determine exactly what today’s shoppers want in their fruit. This will include flavour, colour, size, texture and smell. Studies show one bad fruit experience can turn a shopper off buying it again. So, the ultimate aim for growers is to produce good quality fruit that consumers will love, every time. This will lead to less food waste, both at home and along the supply chain.
A win for Aussie manuka
New Zealand manuka honey producers have lost a bid to trademark the term “manuka” in the UK after a legal challenge from the Australian Manuka Honey Association. Manuka honey is produced from the leptospermum plant, which is native to both Australia and New Zealand. There are more than 80 leptospermum varietals in Australia; New Zealand has only one. If New Zealand were to be successful in their bid, it could potentially destroy the lucrative Australian manuka honey industry and lead to thousands of job losses. The Kiwi industry has thus far sought to trademark the term in the UK, US, Europe, China and at home. However, as yet, no region has agreed to register the trademark.
Australia’s greatest fish & chip shops
The winners of the 2021 Great Australian Fish & Chip Awards, organised by Seafood Industry Australia, have been announced, with the country’s best fish & chippers in each state and territory crowned. After close to 300,000 votes from the public, the most in the award’s history, the winners of the 2021 People’s Choice Awards are:
Queensland: Costa’s Seafood Cafe, Capalaba
New South Wales: Something Seafood, Callala Bay
Victoria: Trident Fish Bar, Queenscliff
Tasmania: Fraggles, Invermay
South Australia: Fish Out of Water, Hyde Park
Western Australia: Pinjarra Fish & Chips, Pinjarra
Northern Territory: Frying Nemo, Stuart Park
Australian Capital Territory: The Fish Shack, Civic
Australia’s shop tills are expected to ring around 300 times a second on Christmas Eve. While shopping patterns in 2021 were dramatically impacted by COVID, eftpos data indicates that things are returning to “normal”. Christmas Eve will almost certainly once again be Australia’s busiest shopping day of the year. The busiest part of the busiest day will be around noon on Christmas Eve. Last year, transactions peaked at close to 270 per second, a new record. With only a week left until Christmas, now is a great time to buy those last-minute items from local producers. Buying Christmas food items locally helps to support our small and medium businesses, which continue to face tough times.
Don’t feed Fido festive foods
With a shortage of vets nationally and emergency vet hospitals already at capacity, vets are urging the public not to let their pets eat human Christmas foods. Even small amounts can be toxic and potentially fatal. The Animal Emergency Centre says that each year over Christmas, they see a surge in emergency cases due to the ingestion of toxic foods. Foods toxic to dogs include the common stuffing ingredients onion and garlic. Most Christmas puddings contain sultanas, raisins or currants which are all toxic to dogs and can lead to kidney failure. Chocolate is also a no-no. It contains theobromine, which is toxic to pets. If your pet eats something they shouldn’t, don’t wait. Contact your nearest vet.
12 recipes for 12 days of Christmas
Western Sydney independent family grocery Wholefarms Market has launched its HO HO Wholefarms Christmas Challenge. It aims to inspire people to cook something delicious to treat themselves or the family. The grocer has invited six mothers and home chefs to share recipe inspirations, including baked ham with cherry maple glaze, trifle and pavlova with a Middle Eastern twist. Recipe creators include Wholefarms Market ambassador Jimmy Wong from MasterChef. You can find the recipes on Wholefarms Facebook page, and you can order your box of ingredients from the Wholefarms website or in-store.
Enchanted dining offers unique experience
South Australia has a secret, and there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world. The Enchanted Fig Tree on Kangaroo Island is a 130-year-old living fig tree restaurant that can seat more than 50 diners inside its colossal 25-metre canopy. Wilderness dining event specialists Gastronomo Dining will be treating visitors to magical sun-dappled lunches and starlight dinners set inside the ancient tree. The experience takes guests on a culinary adventure that extends far beyond the tantalising dishes featuring locally sourced produce, which will be served to private tables set out within the canopy.
Making up for lost thyme
New research from IGA has revealed seven in 10 Australians have missed out on family meals this year due to lockdowns and restrictions. An average of 21 family meals per person were missed this year, equating to almost 300 million meals across the nation. The annual IGA Christmas Aisle Index report also found Australians are opting for convenience this Christmas. Forty-four percent of Australians say they’ll be integrating some ready-made or partially prepared, no-fuss meal options this year in order to save time on meal prep. Supporting local producers has also increased in importance, while more Aussies are also planning to spread their festive shopping across local grocers and farmers’ markets.
Giving waste the chop
Canadian-based company ChopValue, the world’s first circular economy franchise that manufactures sustainable solutions engineered from recycled chopsticks, has announced expansion plans for Australia in 2022. On a mission to turn waste into resources, ChopValue collects chopsticks from businesses such as restaurants, schools, offices and hotels that otherwise would have ended up in landfill. The raw material is engineered in their microfactories for a second life as furniture, home decor and office solutions.
Also in food news this week…
We kicked off the week with the latest in health and nutrition news, which included new findings that show how yoghurt could be the answer for a problem that plagues millions of Aussies. We also discovered a project out of WA that’s using 3D printed food to improve our fruit and veg intake and cut waste. To help you save time on chores these holidays, top Aussie influencers shared their genius kitchen hacks. Our recipe special this week featured plant-based Christmas sweets yule absolutely love. And finally, we profiled Young Farmers Connect, a national organisation that’s helping our next generation of farmers to succeed.
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