Published in the City Hub and City News.
In case you’ve been too pre-Occupied to notice, a worldwide revolution has begun about corporate greed. Luckily I’ve been none-too-subtly pushing ethical eating in this column for a while now. In restaurants, that means I’ve turned down some rather amazing grain-fed beef in favour of the grass-fed variety, often to the chef’s disbelief. At home I care about provenance, avoid genetically modified food, and skip products of Israel. I aim to do all my shopping at freestanding, small businesses, avoiding supermarket chains other than IGA. Some Saturdays though, even I don’t have the energy for my culinary conscience, so here are some fast ethical fixes that will still help make Australia a better, kinder place.
Sydney Honour Roll
Café Sydney, Guillaume at Bennelong, QVB Tea Rooms, Brown Sugar, Allpress Espresso, Brasserie Bread, Le Pelican Restaurant, Longrain and Restaurant Atelier all deserve your kudos and patronage, as they’ll be cooking up a storm at the 2011 Sydney Food and Wine Fair. These businesses (and a whole heap more besides) have all donated 500 plus portions of food to sell on the day, with all of the profits going to the AIDS Trust of Australia! So get yourself to Hyde Park on Saturday 29th October for a day that is about more than just wine and food. You'll also catch exciting performances including Trevor Ashley, Jeremy Brennan (Jersey Boys) and King Casual, and two mates of mine, Suzie Q & Toby J, who will blow you away with their intertwined acrobatics! An extra special shout-out to Michael Fahey from the Civic Hotel, for without him providing the license, our day in the park would be dry! Now that's a sobering thought!
A Meal With Mates
Prostate cancer is one of those things the blokes in your lives need to talk about, if not to us, then to each other, or at least to their doctor. On November 18th, Table4Ten will give them their first chance to, with a tasty reward. For $250/head you both can enjoy dinner and wine at one of Sydney’s top restaurants (think Cafe Opera, La Scala on Jersey, Quay and Tetsuya’s for a start). Your party of ten will then be whisked away to a top-secret location for a massive after-party. Sounds like a foodie adventure with a conscience if ever I heard one…
A Chocolate Fix
These days I’m mostly eating Green & Black’s Organic chocolate. I have however got a soft spot for Pink and White M&Ms® whose makers, Mars Chocolate Australia, are raising money to help fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses. These nurses help out Aussie families battling breast cancer. Pick up your 200g pack for around $4.00 (I got mine at Pyrmont Supa IGA) and 30c per packet will go to the campaign during October.
Just when you thought you might have to give up tuna, you can now pick up a can of Australia’s most sustainable tuna (as rated by international environmental watchdog Greenpeace) at Annandale IGA. It’s called Fish 4 Ever Skipjack Tuna and it’s distributed by First Ray, an Australian company and family business. Co-founder Sandy Abram tells me they “introduced Fish 4 Ever to the Australian market 6 years ago and when sustainable fishing wasn’t even heard of.” They’d become aware of the damage that factory fishing was doing to our marine environment and it pricked their conscience hard. So they worked to give us Aussies “a better and more sustainable choice.”
Today all “the other big companies are now trying to catch up and do the right thing”, but it seems Sandy's Skipjack tuna is still the benchmark. One must not baulk at paying $3.95 for your 185gm tin because as Sandy points out, “when people see tuna for $0.99 on the shelves that does not reflect the real cost of food as you can’t catch a fish, pay people fairly, process the tuna, put it in a can, transport it from the source all the way the supermarket shelf and charge $0.99 and have people make money all the way across the supply chain. So that is where we have to educate people that our fish is more expensive as it does cost more to fishing ethically and without harming our marine environment.” Their pole and line caught tuna also avoids by-catch (you know the turtles, whales and dolphins we’ve all grown to love).
It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic movie: Asian bees fly into Australia carrying the dreaded bee-killing Varroa mite. A bureaucratic bungle lets them run unhindered, and they wipe out two-thirds of Australia’s food supply. Sadly, it’s actually happening right now and potentially affects the 65% of Australia’s food supply that currently replies upon managed European honeybees for pollination. We’re talking everything from fruit and vegetables, to nuts and seeds, to beef and dairy (who rely on lucerne and clover). So my final way to you can show you care, is by heading to the ‘Q & A’ style event called Bees, Bureaucracy and Biosecurity – Australia’s food future on a knife’s edge at the Australian Museum on Sunday 23rd October (11am –1pm). Book in fast with The Australian Association of Food Professionals on (0448) 488 080 for $25/head.