12 December 2010

Here are a few updates, to let you know what's happening and the details of our Christmas/New Year operating hours.

Our normal days of operating fall on public holidays and we know many of you go away as well, so FIG will be closed on Mondays 27th December and 3rd January. We shall be back to normal on Monday 10th January. If you will be wanting a FIG box or boxes on the 10th, please pay for them on the 20th December, or send an email no later than 3rd January, as we begin ordering from the farmers up to a week prior, remember!

Bulk orders over Christmas, New Year
We will be taking orders for bulk fruits on 13th December for collection on 20th December, and the next one will be 10th January, for collection 17th Jan.

FIG has another branch opening, at Wyong!
Ourimbah is continuing on as usual on Mondays and Wyong will operate on Tuesday afternoons, as identical to the Ourimbah operations as humanly possible!


An open day will be held at the Wyong Neighbourhood Centre from 3-5pm on Tuesday 14th December. On that day we will have some sample boxes and produce for those new to FIG and shall be taking orders for the first day of operation on Tuesday, 11th January. The address is Room 5, Old Primary School, Cnr Rankin Court and Alison Road, Wyong (up the hill from Wyong Village Central). We're pretty excited about this and thank Colette for getting this up and running. Our major farmer and super supporter, Michael Champion, hopes to pop his head in for a while as well this Tuesday.

Please forward the details along to anyone you know in the northern part of the coast who may be interested. If there are some of you coming to Ourimbah every week who would find Tuesdays at Wyong more convenient, please let us know either by email or in person at the co-op and if you would like to begin collecting FIG boxes on the 11th January.

Aquaponics Workshop, January
Tank to Table Aquaponics (FIG member) is holding a workshop on Sat 15th Jan and Sun 16th Jan. Here is a link to the workshop information. Please support our members and their businesses where you can, particularly those who, like Candy and others, endeavour to build a business promoting sustainable practises and/or healthy lifestyles, and if you are a FIG member, don't forget to...

... please advise all relevant details of your service or business if you would like it listed in an online member's directory. The Food Integrity Group reserves the right to refuse, edit or modify any listing or listing applications. Family friendly, please!

See you at the co-op!

06 December 2010

Fermenting Folk

A friend passed to me her copy of ‘Wild Fermentation’ by Sandor Katz. I’m a bit of a Sandor Katz groupie now! I think he is amazing; inspiring, talented, humorous, friendly and generous. His style of writing is down to Earth and has such a casual tone to it, you feel like you are sitting there having a conversation with him. A friend who lives in Tennessee recently attended a workshop where Sandor presented! She said it was wonderful and had a different energy to it to see him present live than just to read his words in a book. How very blessed she is to live so close to this wild food crafter. I ordered Sandor’s book ‘The revolution will not be microwaved’ and it arrived yesterday. With sorrel teaming over in our garden, I am keen to look up the ‘shav’ (cold sorrel soup) recipe in this book.
Once again, our benches have been taken over by crocks fermenting every type of vegetable, fruit juice, nuts and seeds. We love the flavours of these ferments and the amazing benefits such food offer to our bodies. At the moment we have honey mead bubbling away, a ‘kitchen sink kraut’ just gone down, and sour beets half way through their ferment. Recently we have bottled a Latin American Kraut which is being well received by all mouths it passes through, pickled some vine leaves from our grape vine and made stuffed vine leaves w. mint cashew aioli (we used cooked brown rice as opposed to making the ‘raw rice’ mostly because I had cooked rice on hand and no cauli or parsnip!), and our very first and yummy Kimchi. But fermenting is also a game of ‘you win some - you loose some. Yesterday I was mortified to realise I’d lost a batch of sour pickles. My first ever pickles. I was so excited. I'm a bit of a pickle fan and was SO looking forward to my own batch. I used a pasta bowl (which I now realise was too shallow) on top of the cucs in the crock and put two 1.25kg weights off some old dumb bells in the top. They are a bit rusty - but the plan is they don't touch the brine, they just sit dry in the bowl weighting the produce down. I opened my crock yesterday to check how the sour pickles were going and you can imagine my disappointment when I found the brine had expanded and the weights were now submerged in brine - GROSS! There was a rusty brown tinge to the brine. I felt like crying :( The chickens enjoyed the cucs and I have learnt from my novice mistake. Also, we tried to make an apple cider w. store bought apple juice, preservative free, organic etc - but it was on the shelf, so obviously has been heat treated or had some kind of treatment to allow it to be without refrigeration. So this cider just turned sour instead of fermenting. We will be retrying this with fresh squeezed apple juice from our FIG juicing apples.

But here’s the reality check. In decades gone by, when families lived with several generations on one property - they lived and worked in communities that supported each other. Nanna Josie was the sourdough queen, Aunt Bessie was always good with the fermented vegetables and Uncle Ted was the one who had his Great-Great-Great grandfathers recipe for creating the sweetest mead you’ve ever tasted. Then it all came together at meal time. No one person was in their kitchen from sunrise to sunset and even longer hours still; grinding grain, fermenting flours, tending sourdough cultures, fermenting vegetables, checking miso crocks, stirring bubbling meads, culturing dairy, pressing vinegar’s and straining curds for cheese making. It takes a community to SHARE what they are doing for the health of all. So whilst I’m not suggesting we all deck ourselves out in colonial garments, move to a property where we all reside and each takes their own role in this community of conscious living. I do have a vision and a dream... "I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr.
I wonder if there are any other folk out there who would like to come together with other ‘fermenting folk’. Not formally - just as a casual group of friends, no different to the informal group of mothers that meet once a week at the park and take a walk or the parents that sit together and chat at squad group whilst their children swim back and forth. My idea is that we could come together and share. Share ideas, experiences, successes and failures - but most importantly also ferments. My basic idea is that we could meet once a month at a nice space in nature. Have a picnic, whether a shared pot luck or each bring their own food. We would each bring (for example) 5 containers of our latest ferment. It would be placed on a sharing table and each person takes home 5 containers of various other ferments from other folk. We could all be in touch via email so as if Betty put down a batch of kraut, she could email us all and let us know she planned to bring that to the next gathering so that we didn’t all arrive with 5 containers of kraut. Whilst kraut is good, that’s ALOT of kraut! The idea is we are forming a community of folk where we share amongst ourselves and no one person is trying to ferment a zillion different recipes in the average home kitchen with the average modern day time.

Some folk may have different fermentation books or guides and that is fine. But if you are looking to purchase an affordable, easy to read, inspiring and recipe filled fermenting book, I would recommend Wild Fermentation. It is a great all rounder book. Betterworld books is great place to purchase the book. US$16.50 and US$3.97 shipping worldwide. BWB also has a really great business philosophy with funding literacy programs in third world countries as well as saving millions of books from landfill. I also find that most often their books are much cheaper (even new books) than elsewhere.
If you are interested in coming together in this informal group to share ferments and experiences, then please email fermentingfolk (at) gmail.com (without the spaces and with an @ symbol replacing (at) in the address). As this group is stemming out of a community of folk mindful of conscious eating, it would be asked that all food used in the ferments be organic - not necessarily certified - but definitely organic in nature; whether that be store bought, FIG supplied, home grown or community garden harvested etc.

26 November 2010


Have you noticed a little green leafed offering on the extra’s table over the past few weeks? Chances are you may have been intrigued, picked up a bunch to inspect it and been a little put off by the somewhat light furry or bristle texture of the leaves. That bunch of rough textured greens is called Amaranth and it is DELICIOUS and SO nutritious.
When our whole foods, organic journey delved a little deeper a few years back, I was amazed when I started reading about this somewhat ‘super green’ and ‘super grain’. Whilst running probably (and I guess this is individual view) but probably a close second to quinoea in terms of a vegetarian super offering, amaranth is really a power house of nutrition.

At the moment at FIG, we have the amaranth greens, which can be used fresh in salads (don’t be discouraged by the rougher texture of the leaves, it really is not at all noticeable as you eat them), lightly steamed, or used in any number of creative ways for vegetarian dishes. Amaranth greens have a higher nutritional content than spinach! Certain strains of Amaranth are actually considered WEEDS! Can you believe it. As one source says “If the weeds in your garden turn out to be the ubiquitous green amaranth, give thanks to Mother Nature and make the best of it” - Asian online recipes
Whilst we have been enjoying the greens through FIG, most people are probably more familiar with Amaranth as a grain, and whilst it is referred to as a grain, the amaranth grain is actually a seed. You can sprout the seed as you would an alfalfa seed and enjoy a nutritious little protein boost from this versatile gift from nature. Many people are also probably used to seeing amaranth as a puffed cereal offering in natural health stored. Whilst FIG doesn’t take the position of telling folk what they should or shouldn’t eat, we do like to keep the flow of information that we find interesting, open to the FIG community. So if you are used to eating amaranth seed as a puffed cereal, then you may want to consider some of the researched dangers of eating puffed cereals.

But aside from the puffed offerings, amaranth is available in many forms; greens, seed and amaranth flour. Of course if you have your own grain mill at home, the best way to have the freshest and most nutritious flour is to obtain the seed and then grind the seed through your mill to obtain fresh, nutrient rich flour. Unfortunately due to the way flour nowadays is milled, stored, transported etc, it quite often arrives in our homes devoid of much goodness at all, and has quite often turned rancid if it has not been processed to remove the oils, if it has then we are receiving a refined flour product which as mentioned above is devoid of it’s full potential nutrient density... But that’s a whole other issue for a whole other day. If you are interested in this point - you may like to read the ‘Whole Grains’ section of Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. There is also some basic information about this issue on Health Banquet.

Back to amaranth flour. You can buy amaranth flour at the store, and if you do not have a grain mill, then to obtain the flour already ground is the next best option to use this nutritious seed as a flour. If you are interested in bringing a grain mill to your kitchen, then Skippy Grain Mills offer really beautiful mills. We use the Billy 100 in or kitchen and I would definitely recommend it to other folk interested in a grain mill for their family. It has served us very well and continues to do so. Amaranth Flour is a wonderful gluten free flour that can be successfully used in many baking applications. Amaranth flour also has 8 times the iron that wheat flour has.
We actually grow some amaranth ourselves last year and it was such a pleasure to have in the garden. Continuous pick greens with a delicious looking pink/red tinge to them. They produced on and on through the summer and when they finally went to seed we bagged up the seed heads and have them hanging, collecting the seed. We will use some of the seed and replant some more - although I have noticed little baby amaranth plants springing form the earth in the space they were growing last year, already!

However you enjoy amaranth; greens or seed; freshly ground or sprouted; raw, baked or steamed - one thing is for sure, your body will sing with the nutrient boost this gift from nature offers.

References; wikipedia, ripe organics, asian online recipes, nourished magazine


Nothing sings Summer quite like the arrival of berry’s in every shape and size. When you see the extra’s table filled with red delicious berries, you know that Summer is just a heartbeat away. I love the sweet, delicious taste of all the Summer berries. They are scrumptious on their own and are so versatile in such a plethora of recipes; raw, cooked, frozen, stewed, baked... however you have your berries and whatever your favourite berry recipe is, I’m sure it’s something we all long for in the Summer months.

I’ve been longing for the berries of Summer to try some of the amazing raw food recipes I see that are filled with berries of every kind. However, even though I brought home TWO punnets of both strawberries AND boysenberries (yes, that equals FOUR punnets of berrys!) the other day - NONE made it into any recipe creations. All were eaten and enjoyed, fresh, just as is. All in about 48hours as well! We discovered a wonderful taste treat. I love how the flavour type of one food can enhance the flavour type of another food when eaten successively. Previously we have done this with californian dates and nuts - mostly walnuts and pecans. Eating the date first brings out the sweetness of the pecan or walnut, really changing the typical flavour we experience from these nuts. We discovered the other day, that to eat 3-4 boysenberries with their sharp, tart flavour and then to follow it with one of those juicy little strawberries - OH MY GOODNESS! The strawberry is SO sweet - it actually tasted like one of those strawberry and cream lollies! Beautiful!

Now for the strawberry tech info... The other day I was intrigued by a passing comment by someone I had just met at a gathering. This person is from Germany and has an Anthroposophical background. In our conversation, this person mentioned to me how traditional Anthroposophical folk will not eat strawberries as they are seen as a seductive fruit, with the seeds on the outside. This got me searching the internet for more information on this - I found it really interesting. I could definitely see how the fruit could have this kind of energy associated with it, as it definitely is a very alluring fruit which has long been associated with love and romance. Strawberries with Champagne and a wee piece of chocolate probably feature in the congratulations basket of most honeymoon suites around the world. The three most romantic associated food and drink items! Whilst I couldn’t find any information about this particular point of reference with Anthroposophy, I was interested with the information I did find about the facts of strawberries. Strawberries, by botanists are most often not even classified as a ‘berry’ because of the fact that they do not contain their seeds on the inside like other berries. However, what some folk view as the seeds on the outside of the berry, are in fact not actual seeds. Those little yellow dots on the outside are the actual fruit! There are over 200 of these on every strawberry. Inside each of these ‘fruits’ is a little seed. Wikipedia has a great microscope image of these fruits showing the seed inside. What we normally think of as the strawberry fruit is actually a swollen stem, like a rose hip. The MadSci network has some interesting information on this as well as some great strawberry facts and trivia on Pick Your Own.
Too much thought? That’s what I’m thinking... I just like to enjoy one of the best fruits of Summer - the strawberry, even if it’s not a fruit itself and even if it’s not a berry and AH.... too much thinking - I think I’ll just enjoy them without thinking about whether I’m eating a fruit or a berry or a seed or a stem......

Cumin Roasted Wedges

A friend recently mentioned to me that they picked up a great little recipe from the Weight Watchers book - Cumin Dusted Roast Wedges. This recipe was verbally passed to me, so if anyone has a reference book and page I can quote, please do leave it in the comments section. But the recipe, if you can even call it that is so simple - 1 step really with 1 ingredient... Does that even qualify as a recipe?

• Cut up washed potatoes, skin on, into thick wedges.

• Pop in a bag or dish and dust in Cumin. Shake around to evenly coat wedges.

• You can either bake them on a tray with a little olive oil or you can grill them on the BBQ.

We grilled ours on the BBQ with some fresh salmon fillets and served w. steamed vegetables drizzled in a healthy oil, sprinkled w. gamasio - DELICIOUS!

A snapshot of Beulah

We were privileged to be shown around the property of Beulah one recent the weekend by the very passionate farmer and owner of the property, Bill. Bill has this energy of genuine concern and mindfulness that surrounds him. He speaks with such passion about what he does and the food he grows for our families. It is obvious that in every piece of produce that comes out of Beulah, a small piece of Bill’s heart and soul is in the essence of that fruit or vegetable. It fills me with such intense appreciation to know that there is someone like Bill, growing our food - who is genuinely concerned about what he is putting on my family’s meal plates. One day, as we sat eating at our meal table, I said, “We are so blessed to have farmers who grow our food for us” and our child responded with “and so lucky to have people to grow this beautiful food without chemicals”. Hear Hear!

Bill showed us around his farm, the outdoor growing spaces, the greenhouse and the orchards. Our tour led down to the pristine water source of the farm where the children were delighted to scoop their hands in and be able to drink right from that refreshing source. Bill spoke to us about his background. Coming 5 years ago from a trade background, with no farming knowledge or experience he poses the question “If I can grow food like this, how can folk who have lived in the soil their whole lives not do the same”. Bill goes on to say that organic farming is so much more than just not spraying. It’s about living in harmony with the land, respecting the soil, reading the signs, listening to the messages that Mother Nature openly shares with those who will listen. When Bill stands there and with the most loving gesture waves his hand to the ground, he says “God put the grass there for a reason, to keep the soil moist and protected - you spray, you loose all of that - then the problems start...” As he trails off from this sentence, Bill shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head in dismay and confusion as to why people would do this. I nearly wept tears of such extreme respect when I stood there is Bill’s presence and heard how he speaks with such love and understanding about how natural, farming can and should be. He has an amazing ability to generate this extreme reverence in us for the gifts of nature that we are blessed to receive.
It was wonderful to hear Bill share his experiences, learnings, suggestions and ideas with us. He was not at all guarded about techniques he uses and openly shared many, many suggestions with the group who frantically tried to scribble down each piece of organic growing advice as the next one flowed in Bill’s words.
We left the property with a deeper level of appreciation for where our food comes from and an amazing respect for the folk like Bill who consciously grow nutritious food to feed, heal and grow our bodies every single day. I love the final lines from Food Inc and it seems appropriate to close this article with those words; that we make three main votes every day on what kind of food we want produced. Whenever we run a food item through a supermarket scanner, we vote, one way or another - which way do you choose to vote?

Organic Eating Out

If you make the decision to eat only organic foods, then your options for eating out can be quite limited. There are a few places on the Coast that serve ‘conscious food’; free range eggs, Lilydale chicken, organic milk and cream etc etc. But still, eating at some of these places can be difficult when you want an entirely organic meal.

We were very impressed to hear that a local Organic store was now serving ORGANIC bacon and egg rolls with organic coffee on a Saturday morning (the organic coffee, hot chocolate and chai is available every day!). There are other items on the menu as well such as corn fritters, sausage rolls and from this Saturday, the plan is to have a BBQ available as well with ORGANIC meat and salads. With the corn fritters and sausage rolls, you would need to check that everything is organic in these pieces. I think the corn fritters are mostly organic ingredients and I know the sausage rolls are all organic filling, but have a conventional pastry on the outside. BUT - the great thing is that there is a FULLY ORGANIC OPTION! Generally, the bacon and egg rolls are served with conventional nitrate free bacon, but all you need do is ask for ORGANIC bacon as you order and this is happily done for you. There is a small $2 charge for the Organic bacon substitute, but DEFINITELY worth it, they are DELICIOUS! Organic roll, organic butter, organic bacon, Lisa Edward’s eggs, organic tomato sauce AH! Yes, ladies and gentlemen it appears Ooomph Fresh at East Gosford is setting a standard for organic food café offerings on the Coast.

If you would like to find out more about the latest organic café offerings at Ooomph then you can call and speak with the very vibrant character, Andrew on 4321 1133.

I just received the following information in an email from Andrew and thought I would share it with anyone interested. Darren will also be there at Andrew's on Saturday with his Organic Seedlings!