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  • Writer's pictureInga

Indigenous Australian Cuisine - A Food Market Of The Future ? ! 🎥

Indigenous Australians are people with familial heritage to groups that lived in Australia before British colonisation. They include the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia. In 2011, almost 670,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were living in Australia; around 3 percent of the Australian population. By 2031, it is estimated that this number will exceed one million, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people comprising 3.9 per cent.

Wikimedia Commons - 1981 Event

Aboriginals were hunters and gatherers, hunting wildlife to provide meat and gathering fruits, seeds and insects for their daily meals. Each season, weather conditions and geographic location would impact on the types of food available resulting in a varied and well balanced diet. They ate a large variety of plant foods such as fruits, nuts, roots, grasses and seeds, as well as different meats such as kangaroos, emus, possums, goannas, turtles, shellfish and fish.

They had a deep knowledge of the land and knew how to harvest our food sustainably.

That changed with the arrival of the first settlers around 1788. A priority for the first settlers was to cultivate the land and begin producing their own food, but in very different conditions to their homeland. Farming in Australia has evolved in just 250 years to what it has become today. But the environmental impact is huge!

Conventional agriculture (conventionally grown is an agriculture term referring to a method of growing edible plants such as fruit and vegetables and other products. It is opposite to organic growing methods which attempt to produce without synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones or genetically modified organisms.) Conventional agriculture is NOT sustainable and causes increased greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, water pollution, water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degradation and deforestation; it threatens human health. Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Bush tucker, Alice Springs Desert Park, Australia

Examples of Australian native plant foods include the fruits quandong, kutjera, muntries, riberry, Davidson's plum, and finger lime. Native spices include lemon myrtle, mountain pepper, and the kakadu plum. Various native yams are valued as food, and a popular leafy vegetable is warrigal greens.

Climate change is NOT a possible distant threat, it is real and it is happening now...

Hopefully - as all Australians feel the impact of climate change anywhere in the country with droughts, wildfires, torrential rainfalls, increasing temperatures - there is a change in sight.

Australian government projects, non-profit organisations, and businesses continue to transform the food system, introducing new ways to engage with food, soil, farmers, and communities in need. From food rescue groups to Indigenous Australian farmer support and permaculture training institutes, these organisations are working to steer Australia to a better future producing food.

I quote from an interesting article in the “Sustainable Food Trust” from February 2019:

“Most foods consumed in Australia are not native to the continent but were introduced by British settlers or subsequently brought in with later waves of immigration from Europe and Asia. Many of the staples grown, such as wheat, soybean and barley crops, have suffered lower yields following the substantial increase in temperatures as a result of climate change. Yet for more than 50,000 years Aboriginal Australians cultivated and domesticated crops that were native to the continent, and therefore better adapted to its temperature and environmental pressures, providing great abundance, nutrition and diversity of food to Indigenous communities. Why local flora and fauna has not been embraced as a food source, and the knowledge of Aboriginal peoples revered and preserved, very much ties into the country’s history of colonisation. A native Australian food sector has been slow to emerge but is gaining traction and is likely, in the coming years, to rewrite a more authentic local and sustainable food paradigm.

Given the current environmental crisis that is felt acutely in Australia through increased droughts, bush fires, severe loss of biodiversity, the poor state of Australian soils and climate change, farming and land management practices that are more regenerative and environmentally harmonious are being sought. The environmental benefits of cultivating Australian native plants over imported varieties that require heavy irrigation and lead to soil salinity and loss of habitat, couldn’t be more compelling.” (see more information in reference)

Bringing bush tucker foods to the table - Victoria University Melbourne, Australia

We highly recommend watching the following YouTube clip:

🎥 (5:58) “Packed full of antioxidants, Australian Native Foods are going global- ABC News”

Quote: Australia is famous for lamingtons and the beloved meat pie, but researchers want to transform our traditional cuisine to include native bush foods like Illawarra plums, pindan walnuts and wattleseed.

While Indigenous communities have long known the benefits of bush tucker such as bunya nuts, lemon aspen, riberries, desert limes and Cape York lilly pilly, the foods remain largely untapped for Australian's food industry.

The University of Queensland (UQ) and the Australia Research Council's Training Centre for Uniquely Australian Foods wants to change that and is working in partnership with Traditional Owners to turn the foods into branded products.

Centre director Associate Professor Yasmina Sultanbawa said the health and nutrition benefits of native foods was understudied.

The centre is a collaboration of local and international experts and scientists, as well as a cohort of PhD students, who will support Indigenous groups to get native products to a commercial market.

Food scientists will provide research on composition, toxicity and safety, UQ's law school will assist with intellectual property, marketing and branding, and social scientists will monitor the impact on local communities.

Associate Professor Sultanbawa said the aim was to push the native foods industry forward to meet widespread demand.



ABC Central West News, 12 November 2020 (viewed 12.11.2020)

Food Tank, 2019 (viewed 13.11.2020)

Sustainable Food Trust, 08 February 2019 (viewed 13.11.2020)


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