Five tips on how to eat local

Eating local means eating food that's grown close to where you live.  If that's Antartica you've got a problem, but if it's Brisbane you have definitely hit the jackpot.

Brisbane's subtropical climate and the micro climates in surrounding areas, mean that many of the items on your weekly shopping list can be grown locally.  Perhaps a great deal of them actually are and you don't even know it as produce from South East Queensland feeds the nation during winter.

Here's five tips on how to eat local -

  1. Start reading labels to see where fruit and veg are grown.  
  2. If there's no label, ask the question. Even if the shop keeper does not know the answer, they'll learn that it's important to find out!
  3. Buy from butchers and green grocers who specialise in local produce.
  4. Go foraging on weekends and purchase from roadside stalls.
  5. Visit farmers markets making sure you buy from genuine farmers, not resellers pretending to be farmers.
Eat Local Week from June 27 to July 5 is all about the food and wine of the Scenic Rim. That's the area that encompasses Aratula, Boonah, Beaudesert, Lamington and Rathdowney.

Chef Glen Barratt at Wild Canary in the leafy Brisbane outskirt suburb of Brookfield showed that eating local is a fabulously flavoursome option at a Scenic Rim Producers lunch to launch Eat Local Week.

The lunch started with tartlets filled with Aratula freshwater red claw crayfish topped with fennel.

Aratula Freshwater crayfish tartlets.

Fassifern Valley Heritage tomatoes were the key ingredient in the panzanella with beans, olives and pickled rhubarb.  Who would have thought that tomatoes and rhubarb would go together?  But they did! Glen picked the basil for the salad from the Wild Canary garden just before serving the dish. Now that's local!

We heard about growing tomatoes from Mark Moon of Fassifern Valley Produce who grows heirloom tomatoes with names like Green Zebra, Tigerella and Mortgage Lifter.

Freshwater red claw crayfish from Aratula featured in the next dish, this time combined with pickled daikon, beans, carrots and pecans with a native finger lime vinaigrette.  Rob Hutchings from Freshwater Australian Crayfish Traders says you can have the crayfish delivered to your door or you can bring some home from the Eat Local Week Winter Harvest Festival on July 4 at Aratula.  Sadly for Rob, after years of working with crayfish he is allergic to them and can't eat his own produce!

Slow roasted Lillydale Black Angus beef sirloin sprinkled with Misty Mountain blue cheese from Witches Chase at Mt Tamborine and a swipe of char grilled carrots, which tasted much better than it sounds, was the next dish.

Jon Heslop from Witches Falls Winery supplied the wine matches for the lunch which included their Wild Ferment Verhdehlo, Chardonnay, Viognier and Prophecy Syrah.  The winery has been operating for 11 years using fruit from granite belt.

Jon says when you visit you can see the winery in action and the wine making process through large windows. By allowing the wild yeasts from the vineyard to ferment the wine Witches Falls have developed some unique flavours in their wines earning them five stars from James Halliday.  I'm particularly fond of the Wild Ferment Chardonnay which luckily for me is stocked at my local wine shop.

You can meet Jon at an Eat Local Week wine and cheese event at Tamborine on Tuesday.

Showing the versatility of carrots, the final dish and dessert was a carrot cake with a thick cream cheese icing and rhubarb coulis.  Rob Hinrichsen from Kalfresh Vegetables told us that the soil in the Scenic Rim is very special and grows spectacular vegetables.    You can pick up some carrots and sit on a tractor at the Kalfresh Carrot Field Day on July 4.

Eat Local Week includes a large range of events including plenty of free and low cost activities plus lunches and dinners.

Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of Wild Canary for the launch of Eat Local Week