News bites: flowers, sweets & space food
Aussie farmers are nothing if not resilient. The daily hard slog of producing food to nourish our nation is already tough enough, but throw drought, bushfires and a global pandemic into the mix and you’ve got yourself one hell of a demanding day’s work. But they certainly haven’t given up. Many have taken the word of 2020 – “pivot” – and run with it, sometimes with rather tasty results. And one farming family on the Scenic Rim has really made some sunny lemonade out of what’s been one lemon of a drought, as you’ll find out below.
This week we’ve also got a whole bundle of treats for lovers of all things sweet, from a gelato range that comes with added health benefits and some rather tantalising new spins on a classic Aussie ice cream to a vegan version of one of the world’s favourite chocolate bars. And in some news that is truly out there, Australian scientists are working with NASA to grow fresh food in outer space. Sure beats living on Mars Bars, right?
Sunshine and sunflowers on the Scenic Rim
When life deals you drought, grow sunflowers. This is what one farming family in Kalbar on the Queensland’s Scenic Rim has done, and the result is a brand-new, one-day celebration of sunflowers, sunshine and happiness on Saturday, March 27.
The inaugural Sunshine & Sunflower Day will feature sunrise yoga in the sunflowers, wanders through the sunflower fields, children’s sunflower art classes, sunflower cooking classes, food trucks and, in the evening, a sunset dinner in the sunflowers curated by Scenic Rim ambassador chef and famed culinary master, Richard Ousby.
Lucerne farmers Russell and Jenny Jenner had been struggling due to the ongoing drought. Dam levels were dropping and water was drying up. So, instead of planting hay this season, they looked to another crop, one that doesn’t need as much water – sunflowers. They registered as flower growers, redesigned their paddocks and planted 200,000 sunflowers.
“From this drought-induced pivot to sunflowers has come a celebration that has happiness at its heart – sunflowers really are Mother Nature’s symbol for happiness,” Jenny says.
To find out more about what’s on offer and to book, click here.
Martian menu: can we grow food on another planet?
While human settlement on Mars might sound a bit, well, out of this world, research is underway into growing food there. The University of Southern Queensland is working with NASA to help pave the way for manned expeditions to the Red Planet by utilising the expertise of our very own Australian crop health scientists.
Dr Adam Frew researches sustainable plant production, including how crops respond to environmental change. Unsurprisingly, he says growing food in space is quite the challenge.
“The microbiome of a plant on Earth is made up of all sorts of bacteria and fungi, providing vital nutrients,” he says. “But in microgravity, plants may struggle to establish that delicate balance of thousands of micro-organisms.”
When this balance is out of whack, not only will crops fail to produce yield, it also disarms a plant’s defences against pests and diseases. So now, Dr Frew’s team is looking into producing synthetic or constructed microbiomes that could be seeded onto plants.
“These are made of real bacteria and fungi, but the composition has been selected to foster growth and health in a particular plant for a specific environment,” Dr Frew says. “The theory is you give plants the synthetic microbiome that will enable them to produce more antioxidant chemicals and are therefore healthier to eat.”
Maybe the late David Bowie will finally get a yes to his question: is there life on Mars?
Have an eggsellent Gaytime this Easter
Back in our own terrestrial sphere, Golden Gaytime will be making Easter extra “eggsellent” this year, with the creation of the ultimate Gaytime-lovers chocolate Easter egg. Made from pure milk chocolate using cocoa certified by the Rainforest Alliance and no palm oil, Chocolatier Australia’s Golden Gaytime Eggsellence Easter Egg is coated with delicious Golden Gaytime crumbs and the ice-cream’s iconic toffee flavour. It’ll be available in Woolworths stores nationally from March.
Also new for Golden Gaytime fans is Griffin’s Marvels Golden Gaytime Popcorn by Snack Brands Australia, which comes in two flavours, original and chocolate – and it’s the perfect combination of the famous Golden Gaytime vanilla biscuit crumbs and toffee. It will be available from selected Coles supermarkets nationally in March.
Gelato with benefits? Yes, please!
In another scoop for lovers of all things toothsome, the gelato masters at Gelatissimo have teamed up with some fellow food producers to create a new range of gelato with benefits.
Acai Bowl is a Brazilian acai berry gelato topped with berries and granola, made with Amazon Power acai, which has more than five times the antioxidant power of blueberries. It comes with crunchy golden granola by Carman’s, made with a blend of oats, nuts, puffed rice and pepitas and toasted with honey, cinnamon and vanilla.
Ginger & Lemon Kombucha is a refreshing ginger and lemon tea gelato made with Rok Kombucha, handmade and batch brewed in Margaret River. Rok Kombucha is an authentic, raw kombucha infused with cold pressed ginger and lemon, filtered pure Margaret River water, certified organic white and green tea and certified organic kombucha culture.
Choc Coconut Protein is a creamy, vegan-friendly choc coconut gelato made with Blessed Protein powder, an all-natural, vegan-friendly plant protein powder made from pea protein and produced with 100 percent sustainable raw ingredients.
The Gelato with Benefits range is available for a limited time only across all Gelatissimo stores. Find your local store or get it delivered by going to gelatissimo.com.au
Have a vegan break
And because all good things come in threes, in more sweet news, Nestlé has announced it will be launching a vegan KitKat. The company says that consumers asking for a vegan KitKit is one of the most common requests they see on social media, so they decided to deliver.
The new vegan KitKat – called KitKat V – will be launched later in the year in several countries across the globe. It will only be available through the KitKat Chocolatory and selected retailers, to test the opportunity for a wider roll-out.
KitKat V is certified vegan, and made from 100% sustainable cocoa sourced through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan in conjunction with the Rainforest Alliance.