Saturday, 23 April 2016 20:43

Farm Diversity - Food For Oily Thoughts

Bush Tucker is a catchy phrase for the culinary delights produced from our native bush, flowers and trees.  With our taste buds seduced by the spicy foods from around the world, to adapt to the more conservative flavours of the natural foods of Australia is taking time. Chefs are specialising in Bush Tucker produce and home kitchens are experimenting with the flavours, adapting recipes to suit all taste buds.

With suitable seasonal conditions, soil types, location and a good genetic stock, both essential oils and native foods can grow in harmony to provide diversity in farm enterprises. By farming these products on a larger scale would not only address continuity of supply as Australia is becoming a well known and a popular source for natural and organic produce, but decrease the high prices which come with niche markets.

Growing native foods in tandem with essential oils is farm diversity at its best.

Sandalwood Nuts

West Australian Sandalwood – santalum spicatum – is a classic example of product diversity in our wheatbelt region. Large expansions of sandalwood crops, over 12,000 hectares are delivering nuts for the potential food and skincare market along with, providing the world with sustainable plantation sandalwood essential oil. The beauty of this opportunity is that these commodities are produced from the single crop. The nuts, which fall after the first 4 years of growth, can provide versatile value-added products for the gourmet food market whilst waiting for the trees to mature to produce one of the world’s best essential oils.

In times past, Australian Aborigines ate the nut as a general food, cracking its hard outside casing to devour the oily consistency of the inside kernel.  Sandalwood nuts are high in mono-saturated fats and Omega 9 with a 60.7% oil content, it's natural flavour of being quite bland, but roasted as a savoury or sweet condiment, they make a very interesting talking point at your table. 

Farm Forestry is a term now less used than when the forestry development around Australia was expanding in the latter 1990s. However, the concept for diversity is a no brainer, for instance, growing Lemon Myrtle trees for the delicious honey and then extracting the oil from the leaves to provide that tangy, enlightening essential oil so popular in diffusing.

Manuka from New Zealand is famous for its honey, but the essential oil, steam distilled from the leaves, is one of the most useful 100% natural ‘first aider’ essential oil to carry around with you in case of that unexpected cut or scratch.

As an aside and being very opportunistic, the production of honey from our essential oil crops is not only bringing to the food market specialised honey products but also by allowing bees access to the flowering plants is helping in Saving the Bees in Australia.

These are only a few examples but encouraging ‘food for oily thoughts’ and taking advantage of wasted opportunities.  There are many more examples out there providing diverse products from the one stem and many more for us to stumble upon.

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