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    Maggie Beer’s FoodWise tips

    Author | Maggie Beer

    My first thought when buying produce is, “Think local and think seasonal” – it sets a benchmark of easy reference when you’re shopping.

    Utilising local farmers’ markets is one of the best ways to not only ensure low food miles, but also fresher food options.

    I visit the Barossa Farmers’ Market every Saturday and love the chance to find out about the produce I am buying directly from the growers themselves. I want to know where my food is coming from. The best thing about shopping like this is that you can ask your suppliers for advice on produce you haven’t come across before, and for suggestions on how to prepare it.

    Grow your own!

    Grow your own! Having a vegetable garden within 20 metres of my kitchen door certainly leaves a very soft footprint, as footprints are all that’s required to have deliciously fresh food on our table. It also allows the opportunity to recycle food scraps to our chooks or the worm farm in order to use their manure in our compost.

    A mini eco system without any need for a car being driven or plastic bags being filled. I love wandering out into the orchard in the early morning to choose fruit for breakfast or into the kitchen garden to pick asparagus or artichokes that will go in to the pot within minutes, such a luxury in these busy times but one the most satisfying ways to add more fresh produce to your diet.

    Growing your own produce would have to be my best health tip ever, even if that means a tomato plant in a pot, or some herbs in a planter box on an inner city balcony, it will make all the difference to your cooking. And that’s without mentioning the delight of tending to living plants as you grow your harvest.

    Plant a fruit tree

    The notion of greening our planet by planting more trees is a given but even better perhaps would be to make that tree of a fruit bearing kind. Our entire garden was created with the conviction that we would only plant what could be eaten and it has returned our efforts tenfold. Imagine if all the trees used in town planning were fruit trees? How wonderful to have fresh fruit within everyone’s reach.

    Put the season in a jar

    The time-honoured craft of preserving in times of plenty is one of the most effective guards against waste. Knowing how to make jams, chutneys, sauces and pickles means you will never throw away excess fruit or vegetables again. Our parents and grandparents were ‘greenies’ in a lot of ways and their ‘waste-not-want-not’ attitude went a long way in assuring all aspects of food production resulted in maximum, if not total, use of meat and fresh produce.

    With so many people time poor because of both partners so often working there has been a huge loss of confidence and skill with food. Sharing your knowledge of food, gardening and cooking with all those in your ambit will be a great antidote to the problem of food miles, will cut down food waste and lead to a richer food life for all.

    Maggie Beer is one of Australia’s most iconic culinary figures, with her career spanning farming, food and wine production, television presenting and food writing. In 2011 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her service to tourism and hospitality. Head over to our Recipe Room to try out Maggie’s own recipes yourself. 

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