Over the past few days, I have begun the task of scouring my local area for inspiration, namely the inspiration for food. The urge to do so was firstly inspired by watching such television shows as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “River Cottage” series, Rick Stein’s “Food Heroes”, both British shows, along with Maggie Beer and Simon Bryant, host’s of the Australian TV show, “The Cook and the Chef”.
What these three TV shows have in common, apart from all being highly entertaining cooking shows, is the chef’s recommendations throughout the shows to purchase locally grown produce.
If you care to read through some of my previously posted articles, listed under the “gardening” category, you will note that I am a keen gardener and cook. My ultimate goal in the garden, hands down, is definitely to have the know-how and the means to grow all of the fresh produce for my own family’s consumption. While the task is not impossible, it is a work in progress. And we do have to eat in the meantime!
My home overlooks the Tweed Valley in New South Wales, Australia. From the back of our home, we look over hectare upon hectare of farmland, mainly growing sugar-cane, which is a major industry of the area.
Each year, a nearby town called Murwillumbah hosts the annual “Banana Festival”. Yes, bananas are grown in my area too. But what it really comes down to, regardless of my home being surrounded by farmland, is the fact that it is not blaringly obvious what our local produce is, apart from sugarcane and banana growing!
I don’t know what you think, but I personally believe that a staple diet of bananas and sugar would be downright boring!
Further inspiration to take the matter further, in search of my own local produce arrived in an article written by a lovely lady called Robin, who lives in Ohio in the U.S.A. In her recent article, “The Chains That Bind”, Robin urges us all to discover what our own local areas have to offer, not only in regard to fresh produce, but also by investigating the local small businesses in our area. As Robin points out, supporting the economy begins at home.
Taking Robin’s advice on board, I set out on Tuesday, shopping list in hand, and, rather than making my first and only stop at the local supermarket, I headed into South Tweed Heads. A number of years ago, a bulk food warehouse had opened, and it had always been my intention to call in there…one day. I never seemed to find the time. So, on Tuesday, I made time. (Rather than lack of time, in all honesty, I believe my tardiness was more so due to my being a creature of habit!)
Once inside the bulk foods store, I felt like a kid in a toyshop! Lines of tubs and containers of bulk food held every type of flour, sugar and legume imaginable…dried cranberries and blueberries, figs, dates, raisins, currants, dried pineapples, apricots, bananas, and the size of the glace cherries…can’t wait to make my Christmas cakes this year with the cherries they have there!
They sell both whole and shelled nuts, including pecans, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts and almonds. There’s oats, honey oats, muesli’s, cornflakes, pepitas, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, tahina, molasses, the list goes on and on.
Although it was extremely tempting to buy a bit of everything, I showed amazing restraint and followed my shopping list. Amongst other items on my list this week, I had caster sugar, honey, borlotti beans and crystallised ginger, all of which they sold. My one and only purchase of temptation was a few soy crisps, just to try, as I know my children usually love the plain flavoured crisps. In this store, I could choose from three flavours ~ cheese, sweet chilli and Dijon mustard. They were a hit! I’ll be back for more this weekend.
Imagine my amazement when I discovered not one, but two Tweed Valley honeys to choose from! The one I chose is a beautifully rich brown coloured syrupy delight, with a tea-tree flavour.
Not only is the range of food available at this store the most extensive I have found in years, it is much cheaper to buy, per kilo, than at the supermarket! Another bonus!
If you haven’t already done so, why not investigate your own local area to see what treasures you may find?
For me, it is just the beginning of this adventure. I can hardly wait to see what else is here, right on my doorstep and yet to be discovered. 🙂
This weekend, my adventures will continue, at our local Farmer’s Markets!