Forget meat and three veg, new grub for elderly will be good
Feb 13 2006
WITCHETTY grubs on the menu? Yams? Wild peach? Roasted goanna, perhaps? All
delivered to your nanna's doorstep.
That has been the dream of the Meals on Wheels chief executive officer, Les
MacDonald. After four years of negotiation with government agencies, academia
and Aboriginal organisations, the dream is to become a reality.
Bush tucker, initially for elderly Aborigines, many of whom have asked for
the food they consumed in their youth, will soon go into production at Menindee
in the state's far west.
The bush tucker enterprise will focus on fruit and vegetables first, such as
bush tomato, quandong, acacia, citrus, desert lime, sandalwood and lemon
Hunting animals is further down the track. Traditional Aboriginal hunting
skills may be used, but "regulatory issues" will have to be settled, said Steve
England, an architect of the project.
Mr MacDonald, who has headed Meals on Wheels for four years, and before that
Uniting Church Aged Care for nearly 12 years, was inspired by Aboriginal aged
care services in Menindee.
He was also inspired by Beryl Carmichael, 71, an elder of the Ngiyaampaa
people. She was born on a Methodist Church mission station at Menindee, which is
the site of the 10-hectare bush tucker garden.
For years, Aunty Beryl, as she is known, has been taking Aborigines and
people from other cultures into the bush to teach them the old ways, how to
survive and how to relate to the bush.
Mr MacDonald also knew diabetes was a serious problem among Aborigines, and
that it was diet-related ("too much eating of Western crap").
The rate of type two diabetes in Aborigines is two to four times higher than
the rate for non-indigenous Australians.
Bush tucker, which has virtually no fat, little salt and plenty of
antioxidants, has been demonstrated to reduce susceptibility to diabetes and to
improve the condition of those who have the disease.
"Beryl talked about her 'brothers' in the Aboriginal community who had been
taken out of Broken Hill Base Hospital and put onto bush tucker and within a
week the type two diabetes had disappeared," Mr MacDonald said.
Once bush tucker production began, the service could spread to other
Aboriginal groups and the general population, he said.