Nick Ray: 1. Seeking out the ‘brave new world’

6th July, 2020 —   

We’re back to a Local Harvest Challenge week after some years break. It been a while since we’ve reviewed our food systems. We are pretty intentional about where we get most things, and have made it our business to create some good habits. That said, a change of residence has meant we’re further away from the Footscray market, and very very close to a Woolworths. I am a little appalled to admit that this ‘local leviathan’ has become our regular stomping ground for some ‘so-called’ essentials. This is even more so since Covid 19 restrictions kicked in.

We thought it would be good to have some extra jobs for the kids during these strange times – keep them busy. So we renovated the side-shed into a chicken coop. Charlie’s responsible for the 12 chickens we now have and sells their eggs to neighbours. We have met people in the street through this process as they come to collect the eggs. This has been a valuable aspect of ‘connection’ at this time.


I too have loved having the girls run out and gather around me, enthusiastically pecking my legs, in the morning. They seem so genuinely pleased to see me and really do bring an added happiness to the day. (Animals … wonderfully oblivious to the news of the world!).

So beyond eggs, for our daily staples, we usually go to Ecopact –  an awesome wholefoods store in Footscray, specialising in bulk produce with minimal packaging. See their product list, and facebook posts for a glimpse of the wonderful new ‘plastic-less’ world they’re bringing in. Most of our milk comes from here, where it’s de-cantered from large bladders into our own bottles. It’s from Schultz Milk in Timboon. However we also supplement this milk with extra from Woolworths. We choose the 600ml Pura carton milk, as it is the only option in cardboard, not plastic. (See Sally’s Blog post on Ecopact).


For fruit and veg we were getting a Green Gully Organics box through a local co-op, but have found due to some specific dietary needs, we were keen to have particular produce rather than a general mix. So it’s now the local grocer, whose produce is amazing, yet really pricey. When possible, we shoot over to Seddon to catch up with our old grocer. See Janet’s rave about him here.


We’ve sourced bread from the friendly faces at local Baker’s Delight bakery. However when facing being more house-bound with the pandemic restrictions, and needing some more screen-less activities for homeschooling the kids, we decided to rediscover the fragrant joys of home baking. Such lovely lessons in following instructions, careful measurement, and patience too. At first we had trouble sourcing yeast, but then mustered up the courage to ask the manager at the Baker’s Delight. He told us he’d be happy to “but he couldn’t because of covid restrictions”.  Then he went ahead and gave us some anyway! It was yeast with a mighty rise. We felt he’d been mighty generous.

My own approach to food has changed quite a bit recently. I’m now avoiding all sugar and sweet foods (including those starchy foods that convert to sugars easily, such as potatoes and white rice).


Of the foods that I do eat, I have particularly enjoy the following:    Cauliflower. So useful in so many ways. Fritters, cookie base.  …    Swedes. Sliced and oven fried to be gourmet chips. …   Quinoa. Very versatile too. Cooked in stock as staple side dish with veg. Or the rolled version which I use in the morning as a breakfast porridge.   …  Eggs. See friendly-chook comments above!

I was buying a non-sweetened almond milk, but have since found that I can very easily make my own. I simply soak almonds for some hours in boiling water, then vitamize them, and drain this through cheesecloth to extract the ‘milk’. I found the pulp, together with onion powder and some flours (coconut, besum, buckwheat) makes for some tasty crackers. You can see these in the pic, with the previous almond milk bottle which I use for storing my home-brewed version.


In the spirit of the Challenge week I have decided to do a little exploring on some of the items which are everyday staples for me – Quinoa, Red Persian lentils, and Brown rice. I’ve told their story in the next post.

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Name: Nick Ray
Suburb: Footscray
State: VIC
Team: Westies
Size: Feast-sized

Nick Ray's Challenges

  • Source local meat & cheeses
  • Shop at a local food coop, buy in bulk, take your own containers
  • Shop at a local food coop, buy in bulk, take your own containers
  • Shop at a local food coop, buy in bulk, take your own containers
  • Buy cruelty free eggs (laid by happy chooks!)
  • Go foraging! - eat edible weeds
  • Harvest and eat food from your own garden
  • Cook with seasonal produce
  • Go plastic-free packaging
  • Go plastic-free packaging
  • Go plastic-free packaging
  • Start a worm farm
  • Visit a local commuity garden
  • Join a food coop
  • Join a CSA farm
  • Speak with your school canteen about local sourcing