Organic Living

Apples and Pears

on Tuesday, 12 April 2011. Posted in Organic Living

Apples and Pears

Apples and Pears

 

Australia is a major producer and exporter of quality apples and pears, and is the official home of the famous Pink Lady red apple variety.  Being a remote island nation, with extremely strict custom laws regarding bringing food in to the country, Australia is free of many of the pests and diseases that plague other international producers.  Australian apples and pears meet the rigorous quality and food safety standards of even the strictest customers.

Our prime position in the Southern Hemisphere, means as Australia we are well placed to provide retail seasonal fruit to complement northern producers and help keep consumers supplied year round.

Fruits of the Season

on Sunday, 06 March 2011. Posted in Organic Living

Tasty treats to make from seasonal fruit

Each season mother nature provides us with an abundance of delcious fruits and vegetables so we can create culinary masterpieces at home.

The Noosa Farmers Market is the best place to grab your seasonal fruit and veg. This season the following fruits are readily available.

We know that banana stocks were severely damaged by the floods and cyclones but the best way to support an industry that is hurting is to buy the stock they have left so they can continue to re plant and grow more produce. with this in mind we have added a Banana Bread recipe below, its delicious and easy to make and you'll be supporting an industry that needs a helping hand.

The Importance of Buying Local

on Thursday, 13 January 2011. Posted in Organic Living

The Importance of Buying Local

The Importance of Buying Local

 

There is no doubt about it, buying organic is better for the environment, but there is a twist!!!!

 

Organic farming does not use pesticides and other harmful chemicals in its production, that is true, companion planting is beneficial to the soil and attracts local wildlife, for sure, but we need to ask ourselves what harm is done to the environment when the produce is transported?  Think about the carbon emissions released in to the air as our favourite products are shipped in from interstate and overseas.  If we can reduce these emissions the long term prognosis for the environment is positive.  And we can all play our part, every little effort helps, making the importance of buying local produce a fantastic step forward for the future.

 

The Noosa Farmers Market showcases many local businesses each week, you are buying direct from the supplier.  Not only does this reduce the harmful effects of mass transportation, it also gives you, the consumer, the added advantage of actually meeting the person who grows your food, or makes your skincare product for example.  Now you don’t get that at the supermarket!  You can talk to local farmers about exactly how they grow or make their food, what additives, if any, are actually used, how is the food handled, what processes does it go through from growing to consumption.  Not only is it interesting to find out the facts, it is a great learning opportunity for kids, to teach them about what they are eating and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.   

 

If you can walk or take public transport to your local Market, even better, you will then be further helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  But don’t forget, by buying only products which are grown and produced locally you will also be helping to boost the local economy and support local business.  Spending your money with local farmers and produce growers, who have invested in the community, will help in building your local economy, and in turn help to build a strong base in your town for jobs and revenue.

 

Head on down to the Noosa Farmers Market every Sunday from 7am and support your local Farmers and Produce Growers.  It’s good for you and the environment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Australia Has Gone Nuts!

on Thursday, 06 January 2011. Posted in Organic Living

Australia Has Gone Nuts!

 

Nuts have been a valued food for millions of years and still today are considered a gourmet food.  Nut consumption is increasing and all over the world medical professionals are recommending nuts as a great food source with many medical benefits.  Studies have shown these delicious little packages can help to reduce heart disease, lower the risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer, lower the risk of developing diabetes, are low GI for sustained energy, and provide a rich source of fibre, protein and Vitamin E.

 

Nut production in Australia has grown significantly over the past two decades and modern processing and marketing facilities means the industry is stronger and more vibrant than ever.  With greater production efficiency many nut orchards are still being run as family businesses, and nut growing is still an important part of “life-style farming”.

 

Australia with its vast land and varying climates is perfect for growing different nut varieties, as every nut tree has its own cultural requirements, from the tropical north to the more temperate climates in the south.  The four main nut varieties grow in Australia are Macadamias, Almonds, Pecans and Pistachios.

 

Macadamias

Macadamias are native to Australia and are mainly grown in South East Queensland regions in Australia.  They thrive in rain forest areas and close to streams.  Macadamias are highly nutritious nuts, they have the highest amount of beneficial monounsaturated fats of any known nut.  Macadamia nut oil contains properties that make it desirable ingredient in skincare products.

 

Almonds

Almonds are native to the Middle East and South Asia, they are however now grown in large quantities in Australia.  The main almond growing regions of Australia are in Victoria and South Australia.  Almonds are extremely high in Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, they are low GI for sustained energy and are gluten free.  

 

Pecans

Australian pecans are grown in many areas of New South Wales stretching from the Hunter Valley to the Central Coast.  There are also many pecan growing regions in Queensland.  The bulk of the Australian pecan product is sold to the Australian domestic market.  Accounting for over 90% of the worlds pecan consumption, North America is the leader in this part of the nut industry.  However Australian pecans are now increasingly being exported to China.  Pecans are rich tasting and delicious, high in antioxidants, are naturally cholesterol free and packed full of protein.

 

Pistachios

Pistachios are a high desert tree, to bear fruit they require very hot summers and very cold winters.  The pistachio tree is native to Western Asia and commercial planting began in Australia in the 1980’s, most orchards are planted along the Murray River throughout New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.  Pistachios are rich in potassium, magnesium and vitamin B6, making them a very nutritious food.  Fibre, protein and antioxidants are also found in this versatile little nut.

 

Make a change in 2011, eat nuts as part of your regular diet and feel the health benefits, as well as enjoying delicious, tasty food. So ask yourself, have you gone nuts yet??   

Organic Wine

on Thursday, 30 December 2010. Posted in Organic Living

Organic Wine

Organic Wine

Right in the middle of the festive season, it seems only fitting that we talk about wine!  You may have drunk many a glass of fine vino over the Christmas period so far, but there is still one more night to go, when drinking wine is a must, the night we celebrate out with the old and in with the new, we make resolutions of how life will change in the coming year, we look back over the past 12 months and ponder as we look forward to the next 12 with excitement, New Years Eve! 

 

So let’s talk about wine, its properties, its’ quality and why going organic for our favourite tipple is a good choice.

 

Preservatives and Wine

Alcohol is a natural preservative, however most wines will contain an added preservative to prevent bacterial spoilage and protect against oxidation.  This preservative is a form of sulphur and can be added at any stage of the wine making process.  The main preservatives used in wine are 220 (sulphur dioxide) and 224 (potassium metabisulphite).

 

Sulphur is naturally reactive and “binds up” with potential spoilage compounds in the wine to protect its longevity and cellar life.  Sulphur that does not “bind up” stays in the wine and eventually becomes bound up with air traces or other contaminants which can then cause the wine to spoil.  For health and allergy considerations it is the “free” sulphur that is the main health concern.  Under organic certification, the sulphur level will usually be less than half that of the “normal” level of preservative added to a bottle of wine.  (This will differ depending on the wine and the certifying body).

 

Even wines that have no sulphur dioxide added can contain sulphur as sulphur dioxide is a natural product of the fermentation process.  However, in these cases the sulphur will be “bound up” in the wine and therefore not in a free and active state.  The term “preservative free” wine will indicate that no sulphur has been artificially added to the product.

 

Can you cellar preservative free wine?

Some people say that you can't cellar a wine that has no preservative added, however, it really depends on the quality & concentration of the fruit and the handling of the wine during the winemaking.  Just like conventional wines, look for a wine that has been made for long-term cellaring.  Speak directly to the winemaker if possible, they will usually the best person to ask about this. White wine would be much harder to cellar long term (7+ years) because it doesn't have the tannins that red wine has and is usually lower in alcohol than red wine.

 

Why does the level of preservatives in wine differ in each bottle?

There are a number of things that will affect the amount of preservatives added to a bottle of wine.  Here are a few for you to consider:-

  • Alcohol is a natural preservative, therefore higher alcohol content wine will need less sulphur added
  • Tannins are also natural preservatives and levels are higher in red wine (extracted from the skins of the red grapes during fermentation).  Oak tannins will also be found in wines which have spent time in oak barrels.
  • Well handled grapes and wine will have less exposure to the elements and will therefore require less preservative to be added.  Healthy grapes will have a higher acid level and therefore need less sulphur, as well as clean equipment and bottling procedures giving less chance of spoilage.
  • Believe it or not the screw cap is the best seal for preserving your wine.  It may be less romantic when you are opening your bottle of fine shiraz, however, the cork is more permeable and therefore has a higher chance of spoilage, for this reason winemakers may add more sulphur to cork capped wines.
  • Wines housed in casks will also require higher sulphur levels due to the nature of the packaging.

 

“There is nothing that has taught me more about winemaking than the effort to make wines free of sulphur dioxide. I reckon that the production of one preservative-free wine should be mandatory for all winemakers. The capacity to produce a high quality PF wine tells a story about ones technique”.

 

Winemaker of “Happs PF Wine”, Margaret River, WA

 

 

 

 

 

Vitamins ABC

on Thursday, 23 December 2010. Posted in Organic Living

Know your ABC

Vitamins ABC

Vitamins A, B and C are all vital parts of our everyday diet.  But what exactly are they?  Why are they so important?  And where can we find them?

 

Learn your ABC’s......................................

 

Vitamin A        

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and is essential for healthy vision, eyes, skin formation, proper bone growth and mucous membranes.  Vitamin A also acts in the body as an antioxidant (see our blog on antioxidants for more information).  Whilst Vitamin A is extremely important, excess Vitamin A can be dangerous and is therefore stored in the liver.  Excess Vitamin A can cause headaches, double-vision and liver and bone damage.  There are two sources of dietary vitamin A, active forms and precursors.   Active forms of vitamin A are obtained from animal products.   Precursors, also known as provitamins, are obtained from fruits and vegetables containing yellow, orange and dark green pigments.  These pigments are known as carotenoids, the most well-known being beta-carotene. Our body can convert carotenes into retinol.   Adequate intake of beta-carotenes has been linked with low risk of certain cancers.  Foods rich in Vitamin A include, liver, carrots, sweet potato, capsicum and spinach.

 

Vitamin B

Now B is a complex one as it takes many forms.  Vitamin, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12 are all required by our bodies for many different functions.  B1 is needed to help release energy from carbohydrates and can be found in foods such as, quorn, yeast, sunflower seeds, peanuts and lean pork.  B2 releases energy from fats and protein and good sources of our B2 friend are found in yeast, liver, cheddar cheese and eggs.  B3 is also an “energy from food” releaser and is hiding in great quantities in yeast, liver, chicken breast and tuna.  B6 is needed for, amongst other things, healthy blood, and rich sources are found in lentils, salmon, turkey and squid.  Finally B12 is important for the formation of blood cells and nerves and to find this little fellow you need to be eating liver, oysters, scallops and prawns.

 

Vitamin C

Now here is a vitamin we have all heard of.  Vitamin C is an important antioxidant vitamin that is essential to maintain a healthy immune system, to build healthy corrective tissue, bones and teeth, to heal wounds and it also assists in the body’s absorption of iron.  Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and is also loved for reducing the severity of the common cold.  No body organ stores vitamin C, hence the reason we need to consume this vitamin on a daily basis.  Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, however can be lost in preparation and cooking, therefore fresh is the key!  Find your friend Vitamin C in guava, chilli peppers, capsicum, strawberries, oranges, kiwi fruit, red cabbage and broccoli.

 

Now you know your ABC’s next time won’t you eat with me!

Fair Trade

on Thursday, 09 December 2010. Posted in Organic Living

Fair Trade

Fair Trade

What is fair trade?

Fair trade means an equitable and fair partnership between marketers in Western Countries and producers in Developing Countries.  A fair trade partnership works to provide low-income farmers and artisans with a living wage for their work.

 

The Criteria of Fair Trade

There are many different aspects to “fair trade” and making sure that a fair trade partnership is viable and making a difference.  Below is a list of fair trade criteria for us all to think about.  We may take a lot of these issues for granted in our society but we need to ensure that our imports are shown the same respect.

  • Paying a fair wage to workers, relevant to the local cost of living
  • Making sure there are opportunities for advancement for employees
  • Equal opportunities to all employees, including women, people from disadvantaged back grounds and people with disabilities.
  • Using practices that look after environmental sustainability
  • Long-term trade relationships
  • Healthy and safe working conditions
  • Financial and technical support should be offered to producers where possible

 

Issues of Fair Trade

There are a number of issues surrounding fair trade, and the bigger picture is a scary one for developing countries if the issues are not addressed and fair trade policies put in place globally.  Food for thought.......

  • Commodity prices are set by rich developed countries.  Coffee beans, cotton and cacao for example are all produced in developing countries, if prices are set low, big companies then sell to consumers and make huge profits, leaving producers poorer.
  • Competition in industries such as fashion and food in the western world means that bigger companies are trying to bring their prices down to give themselves a competitive edge.  The knock on effect of this can be demand to the producers to make cheaper and cheaper products, in turn worsening working conditions with longer hours, faster work rates and lower pay.
  • Patents imposed in developed countries on items such as software, medicine and seeds push prices up and can often take the cost of such items out of reach in poorer countries.
  • Subsidised produce from developed countries, if dumped in to developing countries, can drive down the prices of local produce and have devastating effects on local economies.
  • Western countries can control world market share by regulating export taxes.  As a result developing countries can be forced in to exporting raw, primary industry materials, which give far less returns than secondary industry products.

 

Buying fair trade products makes a real difference for the fair trade farmers and workers in developing countries. Fair trade means a better future for producers, workers, their families and communities in these countries.  In addition to providing a fair and stable price for their products, fair trade is helping producers and their communities build better roads, access health care and send their children to school. Fair trade also enables them to grow and develop their businesses, ensuring they can improve life for their families and communities well into the future.

Trade has the power to generate incredible wealth and elevate people from poverty!

 

 

Grow Your Own Herb Garden

on Thursday, 02 December 2010. Posted in Organic Living

Grow Your Own Herb Garden

Growing your own herb garden is simple and fun. These versatile little plants can be used in cooking, for medicinal purposes, for skincare, in drinks and as decoration, to name just a few of their many uses.  There are so many different herbs to choose from, so where do you start, which herbs should you grow and how do you grow them?  We have put together an easy to follow guide to 5 different herbs, their uses and how to grow them successfully.  It’s a great place to start. 

1.      Basil is a favourite culinary herb.  The main ingredient in pesto, finely chopped the leaves of this little beauty will add a delicious flavour to any dish.  Fresh basil has a peppery, spicy aroma, the scent however is quickly lost when this herb is dried.  Planting basil near tomatoes will enhance its flavour.  You can start basil off in small pots and transplant to garden when true leaves are showing.  Likes full sun and rich well drained soil.

2.      Chamomile is one of the best loved healing herbs.  If you add chamomile to a bath it helps to relieve itchy or irritated skin and aching muscles.  Chamomile tea is a delicious drink that is often consumed for stomach upsets or relief of hangovers!  Chamomile gives off an apple-like aroma and is often grown around paths and garden benches.  Seeds are tiny and are best started off in pots.  Plant this herb all over your garden for healthier plants all round.  Likes full sun and light dry soil.

3.      Parsley adds a rich European flavour to stews, soups, vegetables and salads.  Parsley is high in vitamin A and C so is delicious and good for you!  This herb is also a natural breath freshener so is often served with garlic dishes.  Parsley is very easy to grow either in your garden or in pots.  Likes full sun to partial shade and moist well-drained soil.

4.      Lavender exudes the most delicate, beautiful fragrance.  Grown in your garden, lavender will not only fill the air with a fine scent, its purple flowers will also add stunning colour to your surroundings.  Dried, lavender still holds its distinctive, beautiful aroma and is popular for use in potpourris, perfumes and sachets.  Lavender is also a stunning herb for decorative purposes, and tied in to small bunches will brighten up any room.  Likes full sun and light, well drained soil.

5.     Mint is one of the most famous and widely used flavours in the world.  In cooking mint is often used as an accompaniment to lamb, chopped to make sauce or mixed in to tea.  Its vapours are used to help clear sinuses and it’s taste often lends itself well to sweet dessert dishes and cocktails.  Mint grows well in pots, but once planted in your garden often needs to be contained, so space plants at least 3 feet apart.  Likes full sun and rich moisture retaining soil.

 Start your own herb garden today!

Community Gardens Update

on Thursday, 02 December 2010. Posted in Organic Living

More Information on Community Veggie Gardens

Following on from our blog a couple of weeks ago, here is some more information about local community veggie gardens and how you might like to get involved!

Community Gardens:

Got some time mid-week, want to learn more about gardening or just volunteer to learn some tips?  Why not visit one of our local community gardens?

 

The ‘award-winning’ Yandina Community Gardens, recipient of  Sunshine Coast Regional Council’s 2010 Glossies Award for Edible Landscapes, are situated on the corner of North & Farrell Streets, Yandina. The gardens are an educational facility and are open every Tuesday, 8am - 2pm & Saturday, 8am - 12noon. Tuesday is their main ‘work’ day, and you are invited to come along as a volunteer or just come as a visitor, have a wander around the gardens and share a cuppa with wonderful (and very knowledgeable) volunteers.  All the workshops at the 'award-winning' Yandina Community Gardens are free; they commence at 10am and bookings are not required - just turn up on the day.  It is advisable to bring along a hat, sunscreen and water bottle.  The last workshop for 2010 will be on Saturday 4th December and they will resume on Saturday 8th January.  The gardens will still be open for business as usual during this period.  The gardens have rare, tropical and sub-tropical edible plants that have been propagated on site for sale - see them growing and learn about their requirements; a variety of aquaponics systems running - see the systems in action and learn how one may fit into your Permaculture garden; productive worm-farms, compost areas and very happy chooks; food forests, banana circles and mandala gardens.  You can also see how an average, older-style house can be retrofitted to become more sustainable by implementing solar power, solar water, etc.  Check their website for details of up-coming free workshops or, for more info contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

At Veggie Village, Rufous Street, Peregian Beach, The Horticulture Pod coordinates hands-on gardening with mini Fun Bees on Tuesday mornings 7.00 - 9.00am.  Planting, watering, composting and garden maintenance. Wear covered shoes, sunscreen and a hat. Bring gloves if possible.  Ph: 5471 7157 or just turn up!  Open 1st & 3rd Sunday of the month - 9am to 11.30am.  Everyone is welcome. Garden tours available, ask the friendly Core Members to show you around.

Christmas Breakup - Veggie Village Sunday, 5th December from 10.00am.  Bring a plate to share.  BYO beverages.  Non members, family and friends are welcome.  Veggie Village community garden, Rufous Street, Peregian Beach.

 

ANTIOXIDANTS! What? Why? Where?

on Thursday, 25 November 2010. Posted in Organic Living

What is an antioxidant?

You’ve heard the word “antioxidants” around town? Ofcourse you have!  It’s the buzz word of the new millennium.  Everyone’s talking about them!  Everyone’s eating them!  Everyone’s loving them!  But what is an antioxidant?  Why should we be welcoming them in to our everyday life? And, Where do you find them?

The Great Australian Mango

on Friday, 19 November 2010. Posted in Organic Living

The Great Australian Mango

Queensland, beautiful one day, gorgeous the next........ Summer is here and so is the delicious flavour of the Great Australian Mango.   There are so many tasty varieties to enjoy, mangoes are quick and easy to prepare and are bursting with fresh nutritional goodness.   Mangoes can be enjoyed on their own, in a delicious summer salad, with chicken, with prawns, in cocktails, smoothies and sweet desserts, the possibilities are endless with this extremely versatile refreshing little fruit!

Community Veggie Gardens

on Monday, 15 November 2010. Posted in Organic Living

It sounds like fun but what are they?

Community Veggie Gardens

 

A community veggie garden is a communal garden that teaches people how to grow their own fruit and vegetables using environmental friendly techniques, such as organically growing food without the use of chemicals, water conservation and companion planting.   Members join a local garden community and take part in growing events, attend teaching classes and gardening workshops, take part in family activity days and most importantly have fun and enjoy great food.


Why Should you care about Pesticides

on Thursday, 28 October 2010. Posted in Organic Living

The growing consensus among scientists is that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can cause lasting damage to human health, especially during fetal development and early childhood. Scientists now know enough about the long-term consequences of ingesting these powerful chemicals to advise that we minimize our consumption of pesticides.

Food News have put together a good article about Pesticides in our food.http://www.foodnews.org/EWG-shoppers-guide-download-final.pdf

20 Reasons to go Organic

on Thursday, 28 October 2010. Posted in Organic Living

Article from the BFA

The Farmers Markets are very passionate about our local growers community and about educating local residents about choosing organic food to cook with as a lifestyle choice.

The BFA have put together a great handout that gives us 20 good reasons why we should go organic. Enjoy!

http://www.bfa.com.au/Portals/0/BFAFiles/20-reasons-to-go-organic.pdf

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