The latest in Australian food news
This week we’ve dished up some great initiatives, including a campaign to boost our national veg intake, a challenge to raise funds for breast cancer research and a clever new program that can help Aussies reduce food waste at home. We’ve also got great news for foodies who love cookies, ice cream, blueberries and lobster, although we wouldn’t recommend you eat them all at once. Unless you really want to, of course. For our growers, there’s good news and bad. Legislation for the new ag visa has finally been signed into law, but this comes a bit too late for our avocado farmers, who are struggling through an avo glut. Read on below to get all the latest in Australian food news.
A new dawn for agriculture’s workforce
After five years of advocacy by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), an agriculture visa is one step closer to becoming a reality, with the Governor General signing the legislation into law. NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar says the milestone represents a new chapter in Australia’s approach to addressing agriculture’s workforce shortages.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the government on the details of the visa and how it can best cater for farmers and workers,” he says. “The ag visa is designed to specifically address agriculture’s many and varied skill deficits. To be most effective, the visa must allow workers to move between farms based on work demand.”
The visa will widen recruitment opportunities for low- to highly-skilled workers from ASEAN nations. The NFF believes negotiations are underway to extend the visa to other countries.
Avo growers smashed
An overabundance of avocados has led to many growers seeing the fruits of their labour sell for as little as $1 – that’s below the cost of production. The avocado glut is caused in part by an excellent growing season and the closure of many cafes and restaurants. However, the recent popularity of “smashed avo” has also led to more growers planting the fruit. Labour shortages have only caused more financial strain, as growers have been forced to pay to access foreign workers, with costs including hotel quarantine and transport. And to add insult to injury, imports of New Zealand avocados are undercutting local fruit at the supermarket. With a long weekend coming up for NSW, the ACT, South Australia and Queensland, this is the perfect opportunity to stock up on Aussie avos and help our growers through this tough time. For recipe inspiration, head to australianavocados.com.au
Big, beautiful blueberries
Driscoll’s limited edition Sweetest Batch Blueberries are back for another year. More than just your average blueberry, Driscoll’s Sweetest Batch Blueberries are a specialty, premium fruit known for their extra-large size and extra-sweet flavour. They’re bred naturally with no GMOs by a team of agronomists, breeders, sensory analysts, plant health scientists and entomologists. Growing these supersized and delicious blueberries didn’t happen overnight. It can take up to 10 years to find a new variety that makes it to supermarket shelves. The team has worked closely with independent farmers in NSW, Western Australia and Far North Queensland to grow and harvest the berries, and they can now can be found at Woolworths until December, depending on farm seasonality.
OzHarvest urges Aussies to use it up
Leading food rescue organisation OzHarvest has launched Use it Up, a new campaign designed to tackle the 2.5 million tonnes of food wasted in homes every year. OzHarvest CEO Ronni Kahn says Australia’s national target to halve food waste by 2030 is looming fast and change is urgently needed: “Tackling household food waste is the low-hanging fruit and where we can get results fast,” she says. “To get the nation on board, we’ve developed the Use It Up tape, a world-first product that makes it easy and fun to see what food needs using up in your fridge or pantry, which can then be transformed into your next meal.”
In addition to the Use It Up tape, the campaign will provide a range of tools, with recipes and tips on how to use up commonly wasted food featured on the OzHarvest website, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. A raft of influencers will also be sharing their Use it Up tips, including OzHarvest chef ambassadors Neil Perry and Colin Fassnidge.
To find out more and get your Use it Up tape, head to ozharvest.org
Try for 5 is coming
Only 7.5 percent of Australian adults eat enough vegies. For kids, it’s even less. This National Nutrition Week (October 10-17), Try for 5 wants to encourage more Aussies to get more veg into their day. The initiative is a unique collaboration between Nutrition Australia, vegetable growers and health-focused organisations, and it aims to inspire people to try and eat the recommended five serves of veg each day. Try for 5 will feature recipe ideas, live cooking events, virtual farm tours, vegie tips and hacks and other resources. To find out more and discover the difference that eating more veg can make, head to tryfor5.org.au
Join the 3 Course Challenge
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and research organisation Breast Cancer Trials has come up with a fun and tasty way to support those affected by breast cancer and ensure they get the treatment they need. The 3 Course Challenge invites Australians to take on the challenge of cooking a three-course Indian feast and hosting a dinner party to raise funds for life-saving breast cancer research. To support dinner party hosts, a livestreamed virtual cooking class will be held by TV personality Sarah Todd, who’ll guide you through preparing a menu of three Indian dishes that you can later cook for your guests. To find out more and to register, head to 3coursechallenge.com.au
Lobster that’s better by half
Want to support local fishers? Then throw another lobster on the barbie. Ferguson Australia has launched a southern rock lobster product that makes enjoying lobster at home easier than ever. Ferguson – a third generation seafood company based in South Australia – has released a pre-cut and cleaned 200g raw southern rock lobster half, taking all the work out of preparing a whole lobster and offering endless ways to make delicious happen at home. One of the simplest ways to showcase the lobster is just to throw it on the barbecue with garlic and herb butter. Cooking instructions and the recipe are on the packaging. The product will be launching in Drake’s supermarkets for the October long weekend. They’ll then be available in Foodlands, IGAs and other independent stores by the end of October. To find a stockist near you, head to fergusonaustralia.com
An AppleJAB a day keeps COVID away
Following the NSW Government’s unveiling of Sydney’s “roadmap to freedom”, Applejack Hospitality is thrilled to announce that reservations have now reopened across all its venues for fully vaccinated guests to book at Forrester’s (Surry Hills), SoCal (Neutral Bay), The Butler (Potts Point) and The Botanist (Kirribilli) from October 18. Reservations for Bopp & Tone (CBD) are available from October 20 and you can book at Tap Rooms (The Rocks) from October 28. Applejack promises all staff will be fully vaccinated, and the hospitality group has temporarily rebranded from Applejack to “AppleJAB” to encourage people to get vaccinated against COVID. For more, head to applejackhospitality.com.au
Prahran Market Say Cheese Festival returns
Prahran Market is bringing back its annual Say Cheese Festival from October 15 to 17. Cheese lovers can enjoy a virtual program of deliciously cheesy events including a cheese tasting, two cook-alongs and the renowned Grilled Cheese Invitational. The Invitational will once again pit some of Melbourne’s best chefs against each other to create the best cheese toastie. The event will see participants including Jessie Singh and vegan chef Zacchary Bird prepare their toastie before judges score on name, appearance and taste. For the first time, Melburnians can buy the toasties to judge for themselves. The chef creation toasties will be made up by Maker & Monger and delivered to grill at home. The events will be held on Zoom. Registration is free, and you can order cheese packs for the tastings and cook-alongs and a toastie pack for the Invitational at prahranmarket.com.au
Steamed buns have had a vegan makeover. Pam Pam Buns is an Australian-made and owned Thai plant-based food manufacturer created by Thailand-born entrepreneur Pimarada (Pamela) Watcharadechmontri. She began selling her plant-based steamed buns at local markets, but after a wave of positive feedback, she made the decision to set up her own factory in Riverstone in 2015. Pam Pam Buns now offers a range of plant-based Thai food, including spring rolls, curry ready meals and pouches and massaman, green curry and mushroom steamed buns. The products are available online and in more than 170 stores, including select Woolworths Metro, Coles Local, Harris Farm Markets, QE Food Stores, IGA and FoodWorks across Australia. To find out more, head to pampambuns.com.au
New 1kg Biscoff cookie officially drops
THICC Cookies, the local creator of the famous 1kg New York-style choc chip cookie, has officially launched its new cookie – and it’s one kilo of Biscoff deliciousness. The THICC team has supersized the popular Belgian Lotus Biscoff cookie, which is renowned for its unique taste, crunch and shape. The result is a glorious cookie that’s crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, with that distinctive Biscoff spicy, deep caramel flavour. And they can be delivered straight to your door, ready to heat and eat. To order yours, or to check out the full THICC range, head to biggandthicc.com.au
Stick ’em up: here comes Bill
For the first time ever, Australia’s favourite cowboy Bubble O’Bill is available in a four pack. The iconic ice cream sheriff has previously only been available only individually or in a tub, but Bill’s fan-favourite status has encouraged Streets to launch the four pack, now available in supermarkets nationwide. Bubble O’Bill has been a mainstay in Aussie culture since the 1980s. He even has his own Facebook page, with close to one million fans.
Just in case you missed it…
This week, we were all abuzz about new advances in beekeeping that could take the sting out of declining bee populations. We also brought you the latest in food and nutrition research, including a surprising new method that could have you treating health problems from your own backyard. With the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste falling on September 29, we shared some top tips on how you can reduce food waste at home by making the most of leftovers. It was also International Coffee Day on October 1, so we brewed up some of the top Aussie coffee brands that are doing good for people and planet. And with NSW and Victoria inching towards freedom, we examined the fresh spate of problems now facing our restaurants due to vaccine restrictions.
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