Congratulations Tassievores!

As we begin thinking about the 2014 Tassievore Eat Local Challenge (TELC), I thought it would be nice to reflect on the initial 6-month Challenge that took place from November 2012 and April 2013.

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The Tassievore Eat Local Challenge (TELC) was a 6-month adventure in eating locally. The Challenge was a state-wide behaviour change campaign promoting Tasmanian food producers, stimulating local business, reducing the carbon footprint of food, improving skills and knowledge, and increasing food security within Tasmania.

A team of volunteers from around the State contributed to the success of this program.  233 people officially registered as Tassievores, with a geographical spread of 65% in the South; 26% in the North and 9% in the North-west.

The TELC was launched at the Totally Tassie Picnic at SLF 2012 in November. Over the following 6 months, we kept a blog running with stories from the Tassievore Team, recipes and tips.  With funding from the Tasmanian Climate Change Office, through an Earn Your Stars Grant, we developed a Local Food Directory and ran a series of reskilling workshops and farm tours in each region.

Of the 233 people that participated in the Pre-Challenge Survey the majority of people joining the challenge were motivated to do so to support Tasmanian producer and businesses, reduce their carbon footprint, reconnect with our food supply and live more simply (Fig 1).

Figure 1: Motivation for joining challenge (%)

Why join

  • 97% of Tassievore members surveyed said that they had increased their knowledge about what Tasmanian products are available, and where to get them.
  • 100% of Tassievores said that they planned to continue choosing more local food in the future as a result of doing the Tassievore challenge. One member stated: ”I’m at a point now where I will always look for the local product first as opposed to the way I shopped before the challenge, which was mostly looking for the cheapest product.” 
  • 65% of Tassievores reported an increased connection with farmers and growers after taking the Challenge.

The TELC mark 1 was such a great community initiative and a wonderful reminder of what a privilege it is to be able to live on this beautiful island and indulge in it’s foods! As one Tassievore put it, “Eating Tasmanian is not a challenge – it is an absolute privilege to be able to live and work in this bountiful and beautiful part of the world. Tasmanian producers care about their environment and shopping at farmers markets is a treat.”

We are looking to run a shorter Challenge during March 2014.  Please let us know if you are keen to help out! Call or email Lissa @ Sustainable Living Tasmania – (03) 62819362.

A few more comments from participants about the benefits of taking the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge:

Reported Benefits of the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge:

Sustainability  

“We used a LOT less packaging, less food miles, making everything from scratch”.

A sense of supporting the community

“I knew I was supporting local growers and the local economy through my decisions to eat more local food”.

Health

“I was eating healthier than usual”.

Learning new skills

“I perfected my sourdough routine, and learned to make pasta”.

Saving Money

“I spent less on going out for dinner or getting takeaway”.

Overall impacts

“Some personal changes in how I approach life – In learning to put locally grown above cost and quality I feel like some other priorities in life changed where I now consider community outcomes above personal gain.”

“I feel more in-touch with the agriculture and food production industries in Tasmania and the hard work of entrepreneurs in the food industry!”

“I learned more about where our food comes from, and gained greater awareness of seasonal and fresh produce”

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Bushfire – a Tassievore’s tale

My start to 2013 included a week long, family holiday in a house near Port Arthur (Tasman Peninsula). It was a much anticipated trip as my brother and his wife and kids were joining us from NSW and some dear friends had leant us a stand-up paddle-board to play with! We certainly didn’t anticipate the way things turned out.

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The paddle board kept the kids highly entertained

After 24 hours enjoying the usual holiday house luxuries such as flushing loos, cold beer and lights at the flick of a switch, the fires burnt out the power lines that supply the Tasman Peninsula and we were suddenly glamping (camping with flywire screens and comfy beds). Along with other visitors and locals we found ourselves having to haul water to flush loos and wash dishes and use torches and candles after dark. Despite the change to our plans we realised how lucky we were to be safe from the fires and comfortable and the kids (mostly) adapted to the loss of their electronic entertainment.

One side of the fire situation that interested me was the issue of food (surprise, surprise). On a personal level, we had brought plenty of fresh supplies to suit the varied dietary requirements of the family (vegan/coeliac/FODMAP intolerant) but clearly, without access to ice/refrigeration, there was a need to use up as much as possible before it became inedible. The last thing we wanted was 10 people dashing to bucket-flushed toilets due to food poisoning.

We swiftly cooked up the frozen veges, left by the shack owners, into a soup that we figured could be left out for a day or two in the manner of our pre-electricity forebears and spread our sole bag of ice into three eskis with salt water to lengthen the shelf life of our milk/yoghurt/cheese and fresh veg.

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my little one helping to cart water for washing up (we carried up a big bucket but at least he felt useful)

The 40 degree temps rapidly sucked away the residual cold from the fridge and it was ceremonially renamed:  ‘the frantry’.

We were fortunate to have arrived with cars stacked with non-perishable foods, and the holiday house cooktop ran on gas, so we only had to buy extra snacks (muesli bars, tinned fruit, UHT custard), UHT/powdered milk and matches to make ourselves pretty comfortable.

After a couple of days the evacuation centres at Nubeena and Port Arthur were heaving with generously donated food and water, and locals with fuel to spare were turning up on our doorstep with mini UHT milks, bread and fruit for the kids.

Some houses were hooked up to generators, which I suspect were safe-guarding their frozen goods and fridge supplies, but many must have had to throw out a large quantity of spoilt food. In addition the growers on the peninsula who rely on pumps to water their crops would have had to make some difficult decisions as to which varieties to focus their attention on (hand carting water or limited watering with generator support).

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Carnarvon Bay community meeting – information was hard to come by without power and only sporadic mobile reception

The main realisation for me from my experiences during the fire is how vulnerable we are to power/fuel loss in our modern day communities. Without power our perishable foods would only last a day or two and most people, especially in isolated areas without good public transport and shops, rely on fuel to gain access to these foods in the first place. In our Tasman Peninsula scenario people with vegie patches, off-grid solar, gas bottles and water tanks with hand pump back up and header tanks would have been relatively comfortable, as would those who preserve their own food.

At least I am heartened by the knowledge that our Tassievore community is doing it’s best to support our communities to reduce the reliance of our current food supply on carbon by: encouraging home-grown fruit and veg; reducing food miles by linking Tasmanians with Tasmanian grown produce, and providing re-skilling workshops to teach us all how to use and preserve the great foods we have available.

I am also inspired by the amazing work that volunteers and emergency service personnel do everyday and especially when times are tough.

The Tropical Island Tassievore Challenge

This Tassievore is again overseas attemping the Eat Local Food Challenge – this time in the tropical paradise of the Maldives! I can hear all of your comments now – “you are on a tropical island in the sun and the beach, how hard can it be”.

Well the Maldivevore Challenge is tough. Yes there are great tropical fruits to buy in the markets – bananas, papayas and mangos about to come into season. And a reasonable assortment of weird and wonderful vegies available in the markets (which unfortunately are not available on the menus in cafes/restaurants).  However based in Male’, the capital city island, life is crowded, chaotic and claustrophic. A population the size of Launceston jostles for living space on an island no more than 2km long and 1.5 km wide. There is no food grown on the island, and in the two weeks I’ve been here I’ve circumnavigated the island several times!

EVERYTHING is imported with the exception of fish which is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Processed foods and ready to eat meals line the supermarket walls and are becoming the norm as both parents work to survive the high cost of living in the capital. The market place is traditionally a male domain (though this is changing) and produce in the shops is largely imported of varying quality. My breakfast has been comprising Weetbix, WA UHT milk and local fruits.

The other 200 plus islands of the Maldives vary in foods available. Some are known as agriculture islands, where hydroponic lettuces and other crops are grown and sold to the resorts or for export.  Pumpkin, brinjal (eggplant), papaya, mango, banana, pineapples, coconuts and chilli are grown on many islands, depending on the soil. Many of the islands are made from coral making growing difficult, and the Boxing Day Tsunami also affected many of the islands destroying crops and fruit trees.

Not surprisingly seafood comprises the national dish called Garudiya’, a soup made from dried and smoked fish, lime, onion and chilli. A Maldivian breakfast consists of Mas Huni – a mix of tuna, onion, coconut and chili, eaten cold with roshi (unleaved bread) and tea. Snacks and short eats consist of fihunu mas (fish pieces coated with chili), gula (fried dough balls filled with fish and spices), keemia (fried fish rolls in batter) and kuli boakiba (spicy fish cakes). Not so good for a vegetarian Maldivore – I can’t wait to get back to the wonderful food in Tassie!

Garudhiya’ (Maldivian fish soup)

What you need:

250 g fresh tuna – swap this for local and sustainable fish source

1 small onion, diced

1 tbsp whole pepper corns

1 curry leaf (de-stemmed) – from your herb garden or farmers market

1 L of water

Salt to taste

How to make:    

Cut the tuna into small cubes. Pour the water into a pot. Place all the ingredients in the pot and cook until the water starts boiling. Reduce the heat and remove the scum from time to time. When the fish is cooked, turn off the heat.

Serve hot with rice*, lime and chilli. The soup can also be enjoyed as it is with a little lime juice and chopped chilli added to it. Variations to the dish include adding some fried onion and some leafy green vegetables at the end of cooking.

Serve with homemade Roti bread, (using Oatlands Tassie flour) and substitute rice* with Kindred Organics Quinoa or homeade noodles.
Read more: http://notecook.com/soup/maldivian-cuisine/#ixzz29SevhOoH

 

Munching in Myanmar (Burma)

As a Nutritionist Aid Worker I spent a lot of time living and working overseas in some fairly interesting environments. Lets just say that eating local foods can always be a bit of an adventure! My backpack predominantly consists of emergency foods (dried fruit, almonds, dehydrated vegetables) to cope with just these situtations. Last year in Laos I had the ‘pleasure’ of spending my days hunting/gathering forest foods with the minority ethnic groups and then preparing such delicacies as snail and cricket soup with wild leafy greens and bamboo, fried frogs legs and barbequed skewered forest rat. Healthy and locally available? Yes. Tasty? No, I won’t be trying this recipe at home or adding it to the blog site here. As a vegetarian I’m not quite used to my food having eyes!

Fresh and local frogs from the forest

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Tassievore on tour

It is August in Tasmania, which often means chilly and wet weather and not a lot of fresh fruit around.  The feijoas and passionfruits are finished and I tend to be getting a bit bored of apples and pears (I know I should be appreciative and will try to cultivate this more). Even the reserves of frozen berries are getting low, so it was pretty amazing to hop on a plane and get off a few hours later in Tropical North Queensland!

At the very first meeting that we started talking about what has become the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge, someone asked about what they should do if they go on holiday somewhere.  We decided that in this case you should eat local to wherever you are.  Quite a fun prospect in August in Far North Queensland!

There are little road side fruit and veg stalls a plenty and I made a point of visiting many of them.  One of the highlights of my trip (after the morning walks along beautiful beaches on Cape Tribulation) was the abundance of delicious winter fruits!  Most of my breakfasts consisted of a combination of the following: pawpaw, banana (monkey, sugar, ladyfinger and cavendish varieties), passionfruit, pineapple and fresh coconut with yogurt.  Yummm! I also discovered a fruit I had never heard of before…the Black Sapote (aka Black Pudding Fruit).