There is a story behind every meal
A NSW farming family has released a special recipe book, There is a Story Behind Every Meal. It shares the family’s story of resilience and heartbreak, while also celebrating their passion for real food and the high esteem in which they hold farmers everywhere.
The Foysters have been farming in the Tweed Shire in northern NSW for five generations. While farming always has always come with its share of challenges, in recent years, more severe weather events have led to some of the greatest challenges our farmers have yet faced. After enduring the worst drought in Australian history, relief was on its way for the Foysters in the form of rain. However, the rain soon turned to hail, destroying four million avocados along with countless hopes and dreams. And when things seemed they could not get any worse, bushfires struck and the real fight to save the family farm began.
A new life on the farm
Julia Foyster grew up in Germany. Twelve years ago, she decided to backpack through Australia with a friend. She joined World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and worked and lived with farming families in exchange for room and board. She harvested coffee beans; picked, packed and sliced mangoes; worked on a horse-riding farm; and eventually ended up on her now husband’s farm, picking and packing avocados, mangoes and limes.
A decade later, Julia and her husband Nathan now have two children. In the first few years of her new life, Julia drove tractors, helped run the packing facility, helped to establish new orchards and investigated new crops to grow.
“It wasn’t until the first of many floods that I realised the severe emotional toll on my new family,” she says. “Witnessing the destruction of our watermelon crop revealed what it truly meant to be married to an Australian farmer.
“No one really talked about the financial loss or the emotional strain. Everyone just threw themselves into working even harder to make up for the loss. We replaced our watermelon crop, hoping that we would still be able to grow another. But just before we could harvest, another flood hit. I realised it wasn’t enough for me to stand by and watch things unfold. I had to do my part to help my family financially. The idea for Tweed Real Food was born.”
The joy of real food
Julia started Tweed Real Food by taking her connection between the land, who we are and what we eat into her passion for real food. She experimented with flavours for seasonings and balsamic vinegars, inspired by the fresh produce the family grows on their farm. Tweed Real Food now produces a 100 percent Australian artisan range of seasonings, herbs, spices, salts and balsamic vinegars. From the unique nut-free Avo Smash Dukkah to the sweet and salty Bourbon Maple Splash Balsamic Vinegar, all blends are made on the Foyster family farm. All products are also free from gluten, preservatives and additives.
“My vision was to contribute to the joy families experience when sharing healthy, home-cooked meals around their dinner table,” she says. “But it also created an additional income stream to subsidise the ongoing losses we’ve experienced.”
Drought, hail and fire
During Tweed Real Food’s first year in business, the Foysters suffered their biggest disasters yet. Well into the drought, a severe hailstorm struck, followed by devastating bushfires.
“For two months, we lived in a constant state of fear,” she says. “Fire changed direction away from one farm only to move towards another. When the fires reached our farm, the bushfire app suddenly updated. It showed that the fires had not only ripped through our orchard but the entire area. I was sure at the time that my family wouldn’t survive.”
Julia has now created the recipe book, “There is a Story Behind Every Meal”. It features 65 delicious recipes, intertwined with family farm stories and beautiful imagery. It perfectly encapsulates the journey of overcoming hardship while also providing heart-wrenching insight into the reality of farming life in Australia in the age of climate change. The book’s dedication is, in itself, the perfect salute to every one of our hard-working farmers.
“This book is dedicated to those that work in acres, not hours,” it says. “To all the farmers that have endured hardships but still continue to get up every day and work the land.
“To those who get their hands dirty, show resilience, tenacity, passion and dedication in everything they do, and those that support these people. We see you.”
You can buy There is a Story Behind Every Meal at the Tweed Real Food website.