News bites: the latest in Aussie food
What’s the latest in Aussie food news? It’s been a pretty inspiring week. For starters, Victorian egg farmers are helping to turn things sunny side up for those suffering food insecurity, and celeb chefs have joined forces to tackle COVID-induced loneliness. There’s also a huge collective sigh of relief coming from NSW restaurants and cafes right now, as they finally see a light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. And in a more intellectual realm, our greatest scientific minds have set themselves a mission to address some of the biggest problems facing agriculture. You can find out all about these good news stories below.
We also bring you spooky pineapples, insect energy bars, foodie roadshows, delicious double acts and bangin’ burgers. What a great way to kick off the weekend. Enjoy!
Boo! Help our growers have a happy Halloween
This coming Halloween, pineapple farmers are calling on Australians to ditch the pumpkin for something sweeter. Queensland pineapple producer Pure Gold Pineapples is challenging consumers to drop the US custom of carving a Halloween pumpkin and support the local pineapple industry by getting behind a new Aussie tradition of carving a “Spooky Pine”.
Like many food producers, our Queensland pineapple growers have had it tough this year thanks to extended lockdowns, border closures and workforce shortages. So they need your support! To get people behind the cause, Pure Gold Pineapples has released limited edition Spooky Pines that are available at major supermarkets across Australia throughout October. Best of all, unlike pumpkins, carving pineapples doesn’t leave any waste – simply use the flesh of the pine in your favourite recipe, whip up a piña colada or enjoy it fresh.
Farmers are real good eggs
Victorian egg farmers have begun donating pallets of local eggs to help feed thousands of in-need Victorians as part of Foodbank Victoria’s ongoing efforts to distribute much-needed emergency food relief for those experiencing food insecurity.
“Over the next 10 weeks, Victorian egg farmers will donate at least two pallets of eggs per week to help those struggling to put food on the table,” says Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) Egg Group President Brian Ahmed. “If you stacked them on top of each other, it’s roughly enough to scale the height of Melbourne’s Eureka Tower more than 30 times.”
This steady supply of eggs is part of the VFF’s recently launched “Farmy Army” initiative that helps coordinate a response for farmers and communities in need in Victoria.
On a mission
Three major new missions from Australia’s national science agency the CSIRO have been created to capture a $20 billion opportunity for Australian agriculture to extend its position as a world leader. The $150 million investment from the CSIRO, government and industry will address drought and explore the food export market and the protein market. The CSIRO’s Missions Program aims to reduce the impacts of drought by 30 percent, increase the value of Australian agrifood exports by $10 billion and produce an additional $10 billion in high-quality protein products by 2030. In addition, the program is seeking to tackle some formidable problems, including building an affordable hydrogen industry, ending plastic waste and enabling regional areas to achieve net zero emissions.
NSW prepares to reopen
The NSW government’s roadmap to reopening is welcome news for our restaurants and cafes, with venues expected to open their doors again in just over a month to fully vaccinated patrons. And with the weather warming up nicely, eager Sydney diners will also be able to enjoy their meal outdoors at a growing number of eateries. The City of Sydney’s Al Fresco Dining initiative has now approved 266 inner-city venues for outdoor dining, with plans also in the works to offer outdoor entertainment. Outdoor dining means more customers and more business for our struggling hospitality industry, which has experienced huge downturns in revenue since lockdowns began. So get vaxxed and get eating!
Something to chirp about
Insect protein food brand Hoppa Foods has launched a new range of energy bars. This new addition joins the brand’s cricket-based protein powders, baking powders and pasta. Crickets are one of the world’s most sustainable sources of protein, needing 12 times less food and 2000 times less water to produce the same amount of protein as beef cattle.
Each Hoppa bar contains 10-11g of clean protein, complete amino acids, omegas, vitamin B12, iron, calcium and potassium. They also contain no added sugar, wheat or dairy and are low in carbs. The bars are available in cinnamon & chia, coconut & pumpkin seed, cocoa & cashew and peanut butter & oat flavours. Each bar is made from sustainably raised crickets which have been ground into a fine powder, and all are sweetened naturally with dates.
Hoppa’s cricket energy bars are available nationwide from hoppafoods.com
A meating of minds
Cultivated meat company Vow has partnered with food tech innovator Nourish Ingredients to create a new hybrid alternative protein which combines cultivated meat products flavoured with “animal-free” fat. Sydney-based start-up Vow develops cultivated meat from cells of both livestock and non-livestock animals, such as crocodile and kangaroo. Vow has collaborated with Canberra-based Nourish Ingredients to improve the taste and feel of its cultivated meat products by incorporating fats developed through precision fermentation. This brings the key flavour element that enhances the palatability of meat. The first-of-its-kind partnership represents a growing trend in the food-tech sector, where start-ups are beginning to combine their sustainable technologies to create products that appeal to the growing number of consumers looking for animal-based food alternatives.
Sydneysiders: here’s the lockdown food news you’ve been craving. Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney’s signature burgers are now on the menu for takeaway. Beginning this week, every Thursday and Friday from 12pm to 2pm, customers who live or work nearby can pop by the Sydney CBD restaurant at 66 Hunter Street and pick up a Blackmore Wagyu burger with bacon, gruyere cheese and zuni pickle; or a Rockpool cheeseburger with bacon and dill pickle. They’re available for $25 each, and are served with a side of delicious fat-cut chips. Just place your order at the restaurant, then wait outside for collection.
Mushroom meets Mexican
Mexican chain Guzman y Gomez has introduced its first new filling since 2018, partnering with Fable Food Co, which produces shiitake mushroom-based meat alternatives. To celebrate the launch, GYG has introduced a brand spanking new taco, The Chimi Shredded Mushroom Taco. Made with a fresh softshell tortilla, the taco is filled with shredded mushroom, crisp iceberg lettuce and topped with GYG’s signature Pico de Gallo and Chimi mayo. The Fable filling will also be available in bowls and burritos.
You can try GYG’s new shredded mushroom filling across the entire menu range, with the exception of breakfast items. You can find out more here.
Zero carbon, zero plastic
Australia’s first zero carbon streetfood kitchen, atiyah, has gone one step further in fighting the war on waste by helping its food and drink suppliers replace plastic packaging with eco-friendly alternatives. Following a third-party assessment and waste audit, it was revealed that an estimated 12.5kg per month of plastic waste was being created from wholefood and drink suppliers. To help make the shift, atiyah’s co-founder and Managing Director, Ben Armstrong, helped source and even provide partial funding to suppliers who were willing to use compostable or closed-loop replacements. Suppliers making the switch include the Cottage Cheese Farm and Lebanese dip and sweets producer Naheda’s Choice.
Food for a purpose
COVID has left more Australians than ever before dealing with loneliness and food insecurity. To help combat these growing problems, some of Australia’s most-loved culinary figures are joining forces to remind Aussies about the benefits of mealtimes. The result is #Cook2Connect – a campaign which encourages us all to “share a plate with a mate” while also raising much-needed funds for food rescue org OzHarvest. Plated up between September and October, the digital campaign will see culinary icons such as Manu Feildel, Jason Roberts and Tom Walton sharing videos to provide home cooks with nourishing recipes to connect with loved ones. The videos will also have a timely call to action, asking viewers to make a donation to OzHarvest to help provide a meal to those in need.
#Cook2Connect “Share a Plate with a Mate” is supported by a range of Australian food and cooking brands including Perfection Fresh, D’Orsogna, Kenwood, Nature Nate’s Honey, NH Foods Australia, Patak’s and TEFAL, with more supporters to be announced soon. For more information, head to plateforamate.com
The ultimate foodie roadshow
Sheraton is bringing together some of Australia’s most inspiring chefs and industry leaders to deliver an unforgettable culinary experience over four locations. Kicking off in October, these appetising events will serve up the best in food and drink with a strong sense of community, starting with a festival across four days in Queensland’s idyllic Port Douglas, followed by a series of Sheraton summer events in Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.
After a four-year hiatus, Taste Port Douglas is getting ready to mark its highly anticipated return to the Sunshine State from October 7-10. Led by Spencer Patrick of Harrisons, the festival will welcome some of Australia’s leading chefs to the table, including Ben Williamson, Alanna Sapwell, Laura Sharrad and Massimo Mele. Events will include the Port Douglas Long Lunch, staged in the heart of the seaside town with ocean views, and a Sheraton Festival Village with cooking demonstrations and masterclasses.
For more info or to buy tickets, head to tasteportdouglas.com.au. Sheraton summer roadshows across Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast will soon be announced.
Just in case you missed it…
This week, Eativity fell in clove with the incredible world of garlic. There really is so much more to this essential ingredient than those cheap, bland bulbs you’ll find at the supermarket. We also pulled on our PJs and found out what foods and drinks can help you to have a good night’s sleep. And when you wake up the next day refreshed, you might want to try one of these delicious brekkie recipes from celeb chef Hayden Quinn. For lockdowners who are looking to their backyards for inspiration, we also shared some smart tips on how you can grow your own food safely and avoid making you or your family sick. And last but not least, we were inspired by the incredible story of Charlie’s Fine Food Co – a family business that faced disaster when COVID hit, but found a way to save the day.