Authentic Australian food, land stewardship and our food for the future
Have you ever considered the consequences of your choice in the foods you
eat? Beef production is a sequence of land clearing, water harvesting,
fencing, weed and erosion control, chemical drenches, waterway pollution and
oil dependent animal husbandry and meat production.
But on to agricultured products.
Looking at specific species, we might consider the mountain pepper. It comes from the Tasmanian forests about to be clear-felled by forestry operations (after all the animals are killed as a pre-logging procedure). The pittance earned from the wood chip pales into insignificance compared to possible returns if we really were a smart country and invested in this useful species (and other wild Tasmanian foods). Not only could it reduce or replace imports of black and Szechuan pepper but it contains compounds which are anti-arthritic, boost circulation and obviously, make a versatile culinary spice. The pepperberry fruits have recently been shown to contain record levels of anthocyanin antioxidants and a spice marketed as Alpine pepper is just sublime over fruits such as strawberries and pineapple or anywhere you would add black pepper or in dishes such as salt and pepper squid or Alpine pepper roo fillet.
Does it make sense to obliterate the environment where this national
resource grows and replace much of this highly biologically diverse country
with introduced softwood species? It doesn’t seem smart to me.
One feature of the Australian authentic food industry is the involvement of Aboriginal communities. They are suppliers, value adders and even customers for some products. Wattleseed, quandong and bush tomatoes still come from communities although harvests are augmented by non-Aboriginal pickers and growers. These products are sold as roasted Wattleseed and in extract form; Quandong are sugar-cured into a confit perfect for desserts or savoury sauces; and bush tomatoes are popular as a chutney or in the spice described by its language name of Yakajirri.
All in all, there are over three dozen Australian foods made from the fruits, seeds, herbs, spices and extracts of indigenous plants. As we create demand and foster a new industry, land once cleared for exotics can be replanted with local species, rainforests albeit simplified, are returned to their rightful places. ‘Improved pastures’ infested with weeds give way to productive shrubland and plantations of small trees harvested for their fruits and seeds. Our majestic forests can be managed under responsible stewardship plans and also provide employment for anyone wishing to forage for wild berries, mushrooms, herbs, spices and essential oils.
Why not support the extant Australian native food industry and get your Xmas gifts on-line as you give your family and friends a taste of Australia and help us move towards an ecologically sustainable, bio-diverse and healthy future.