Dominic Smith, an indigenous producer, plans to triple his native food production to meet demand. (ABC: Carl Saville)
Farmers are unable to keep up with market demand for native foods, as it increases consumer and producer interest in nutrient-rich foods.
- A native food grower is planning to triple his products to keep up with demand
- A native chef is also struggling to grow his business due to a lack of local produce
- The Outback Spirit Foundation describes Australian natural foods as super foods for their high nutritional value
Dominic Smith planted two hectares of native food on his property in Monash, in the South Australia River, and plans to triple that in the coming months to meet the growing demand for native food.
His seven-hectare farm, Pundi Produce, is the home of warrigal, a type of native spinach, as well as river mint, cannabis seeds and salt.
With the increase in market interest, Mr. Smith has rapidly expanded its products.
"I also have to have different varieties, so look at the lime and desert quandong.
"So this is the next part and also three acres of ripe tomatoes – as far as I can grow," said Smith.
Dominic Smith, one of the few breeders in Australia who grow native foods, says he is struggling to keep up with the growing demand for his products. (Provided: Outback Spirit Foundation)
Request "on the rise"
Andrew Fielke, a consultant chef from Adelaide whose business is based exclusively on indigenous food, struggled to expand his business due to the lack of available local products.
Chef Andrew Fielke says there's only a handful of native foods available on a commercial scale. (ABC: Carl Saville)
"There is not enough cultivation," Fielke said.
"Right now my business growth is severely limited by the reliable supply of raw products … a large majority of my lines that I am now struggling to get.
"Demand is increasing, there is still not enough investment in the agricultural sector.
"There is no doubt that the way forward is to engage with indigenous groups to make them plant and grow this for the future".
The Outback Spirit Foundation worked with farmers across Australia to supply large supermarket chains, such as the Coles, with bush-based foods.
The director of the Foundation, Chris Mara, said that the ten-year foundation has also recognized the market gap.
"For some things like cannabis seeds, Kakadu plum and bushy tomatoes, you can't get enough of these ingredients, so request a higher supply," Mara said.
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The next superfoods?
Mara believed that the native products of Australia were indeed super foods.
"The Kakadu plum, for example, has about 20 times the vitamin C per 100 grams compared to an orange and antioxidant value about five times that of a blueberry," said Mara.
Kakadu plum is a native fruit that grows almost exclusively in the Aboriginal land in the Top End. (Provided: Indigenous Land Corporation)
"The wattle seeds are very rich in proteins and can be used in everything from dairy products to bread making.
"These kinds of things attract large producers because of those nutritional values."
Mr. Fielke would like native foods to fill the space of Australian cuisine.
He said native foods could offer consumers a number of benefits that non-indigenous foods have not encountered.
"What is Australian cuisine? Are meat tarts and barbecues just?" He said.
"You're talking about culturally appropriate foods for Australia."
Support Aboriginal communities
Dominic Smith says he is rapidly expanding his business to recover the demand for native food. (ABC Riverland: Anita Butcher)
The Outback Spirit Foundation has planned an expansion of the sector.
"The interest continues to grow, not only from restaurants, but also from major food producers.
"It has moved away from the artisanal supply chain to the more commercial supply chain, so that demand is growing," said Mara.
Producer Dominic Smith has a part-time employee, but would like to see the industry grow into a market that could support several full-time employees.
"More job opportunities for indigenous people … is a great source of income for local communities," he said.
Mr. Smith said that culturally appropriate work was suitable for indigenous youth.
"I'm at peace when I work outdoors, I love it."
Dominic Smith believes that working with bush food would be influential for young indigenous people and giving them a sense of pride in their culture. (ABC Riverland: Anita Butcher)
And although it could be a slow burn, Mr. Smith believed that tolerant drought and fertilizer, chemical crops and pesticide-free were a safe bet for any farmer.
"Our people used it (bush food) for thousands and thousands of years … and this happened through great droughts".
Food and beverages,
fertilizers — horticulture,
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