4th April, 2012 —
This week I, along with some other local food lovers in Orange and Canowindra (Central NSW), have taken on the Local Harvest Challenge and pledged to eat only food (and wine!) sourced from within a 100 mile radius (160km). The “hundred mile” concept comes from an experiment in local eating which turned into a best-selling book called The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating by Canadians Alisa Smith and JB Mackinnon, in 2005. The 100 Mile Diet’s motto is “Local Eating for Global Change” – it’s all about food miles, carbon footprints, how far food travels from paddock to plate and supporting local farmers.
When it came time to clear out the fridge and pantry to make room for this week’s Local Harvest Challenge food boxes supplied by Katie Baddock from The Farm Gate and Lisa and Jess Lovick from A Slice of Orange, I had a chance to really take stock of the food I buy for the family and where it comes from.
Unless desperate, I always steer clear of the big bad supermarket chains. ( I love thinking woman’s crumpet Richard Glover’s commentary about truth in advertising in this week’s Sydney Morning Herald. He suggested a more truthful advertisement for the supermarkets might go something like: “Here at Colesworth we use our vast market power to crush farmers and exploit workers, thus allowing us to offer prices that are not too bad…” If only the cameras would pan back so we could see the gun to the head of the farmer in the paddock!)
But I am lucky. I live on a vineyard in Canowindra, NSW and I am surrounded by an abundance of produce and value added local products, from apples, hazelnuts, truffles and cider up the hill in Orange, to lamb, vegetables, cherries, figs and olives around warmer climate Canowindra. Just as importantly as being surrounded by producers, we also have some fantastic providores – it’s one thing to live near the source, but you have to be able to actually get your hands on it! A Slice of Orange and Totally Local sell a great range of local produce in Orange, and here in Canowindra, our local grocer (also a grower) , Gaskill Greens, is committed to fresh, seasonal, organic local produce. For a classic country town where men still dip their hats to ladies and the main street is lined in utes, we have a very sophisticated food scene! 🙂
At this juncture, I would like to claim immunity for the following items during the Local Harvest Challenge:
- Milk. When it comes to buying locally and supporting producers, milk is perhaps the most difficult and problematic product. I refuse to buy the heavily discounted milk, but I know the supermarket duopoly is crippling the dairy industry and soon there will be no more small family dairy farms. I can buy my milk straight from a local dairy, under the cover of darkness, dressed in fatigues and a balaclava, after receiving the all clear from check point 1 that the milk truck has left the dairy, ten four rubber ducky… but the effort required actually outweighs my moral objection!
- Cereal. I have an eleven year old son. Say. No. More.
- Chocolate. Fair go. It’s the week before Easter and there are not a lot of cacao plantations in central NSW. But, at risk of coming across as a complete bleeding heart, I will pledge to purchase only Fair Trade chocolate for Easter.
- If I can’t source my produce from with a hundred mile radius, I will endeavour to ensure it is as close to that as possible. For example, I will choose Riverina rice over imported rice.
DAY ONE – Sunday night, our first Local Harvest Challenge dinner, was a simple Sunday supper of wholemeal sourdough bread from Racine restaurant in Orange, our own happy, free range poached eggs sprinkled with Italian parsley from our garden.
|Mandagery Creek Vension loin
DAY TWO – Last night, we invited friends around for dinner, who, in the spirit of the Challenge, presented me with a beautiful bouquet of local beetroot. We feasted on Mandagery Creek Venison with potatoes and beetroot roasted in local olive oil with halved lemons, garlic and fresh thyme. Venison is a very lean meat which is easily overcooked. I seared it in a hot pan then roasted it in the oven for about 10 minutes (it was only a thin loin). It was then left to rest for another 10 minutes. The result was the most tender meat I have ever had the pleasure of eating!
To drizzle over the venison, I made an amazing Sangiovese reduction sauce with meat trimmings, garlic, onion, bay leaves, thyme, juniper berries, 100 mls balsamic vinegar, 50 mls red wine vinegar, 150 mls port and a full bottle of Sangiovese, left to simmer for about 2 hours. The trick with a good reduction is to build up the flavour in increments. Let the vinegars reduce to about 50 mls before adding the port. Let that reduce again, before adding the red wine.
Naturally, we matched the meal with a bottle of our 2002 Hamiltons Bluff Sangiovese 🙂
Follow these other local foodies on their Local Harvest Challenge…
Kate Barclay at the Bendy Street Emporium in Canowindra
Lisa & Jess Lovick at A Slice of Orange in Orange
Katie Baddock at The Farm Gate in Orange
Shawn & Willa Arantz at Racine in Orange
Sophie Hansen at Local is Lovely in Orange (Sophie and her husband Tim own Mandagery Creek Venison)
and our token bloke, David Cumming at Define Wine in Orange
See my blog at http://www.hamiltonsbluff.com/