Fresh produce – organically yours

IT was not all that long ago that if you started talking about organic foods you were typecast in the ‘Neil from the Young Ones’ mould. You were one of “them”.

These days, if you don’t in some way think about our environment and how we treat it, you would certainly be in the minority. The search for providing ‘safe’ produce is no longer a minority sport as more and more consumers from all backgrounds look at alternatives to mass produced, genetically modified or chemically enhanced products.

Having lived in the UK and seen first-hand the effect Mad Cow Disease had on the public, it is hard not to think we really do live in the lucky country and should be able to farm the land without harm.

Excuse me, I think I’m turning into Neil, but it’s safe to say I am not the only person doing so.

During the past five or so years the number of organic or biodynamic farmers in Australia has increased significantly to match consumer demand. At the end of last year there were about 1500 growers of organic produce in Australia, with more than half of those growers making the change from traditional production in the past five years.

As consumers’ demands for organic produce grow, the number of growers will continue to increase. The domestic market for organic produce has been estimated at between $80 million and $100 million a year and is obviously still on the rise, as supply cannot meet demand.

It is suggested, however, that the biggest growth will come from the export market, given our ability to produce just about all year round. Those farmers who have changed to organic production are now reaping rewards for their efforts, as buyers will pay a premium for this type of produce, with some farmers getting up to 30 per cent more for their chemical-free produce.

One successful venture has been the Organic Beef Export company, which began its operation in 1995 with only handful of producers and properties. It now has more than 30 properties covering about seven million hectares across northern Victoria, NT, South Australia and NSW.

The properties involved were in the unique situation whereby the cattle were grazing on land where, due to isolation and the absence of introduced pests, there has never been a need for the use of chemicals.

The cattle have never been given food additives or growth promotants.

The company now exports more than $4 million annually to Japan and is able to command a premium of about 30 per cent over the price of traditionally produced beef. Delivery is made anywhere in the world within 14 days the company’s website says.

So what is organic produce?

Essentially, ‘organic’ means food that has been grown without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators or antibiotics. That is pretty logical. Now this is the important bit – the land on which the food is harvested needs to have been free of these chemicals for at least three years.

Organic farming, says Neil my organic farmer, is all about finding the balance between providing safe and pure food that is pure for human consumption and protecting the earth from denigration and unnatural farming methods. Sound heavy I know, but this is the way consumers seem to be heading.

In WA there is now a number of outlets supplying organically produced fruit and vegetables. In the central markets in Canning Vale, Peter Cocks operates a successful wholesale business, Biodynamic Wholefoods.

Having moved into the markets about a year and a half ago has enabled him more exposure. He now supplies a number of the health food store around Perth as well as a growing number of growers’ markets, such as Innaloo fresh markets and the Midland growers markets.

He sources most of his product through certified growers in the South West and also through Carnarvon, especially throughout the winter months. He finds it difficult to supply restaurants as at this stage their quantities are too spasmodic and often too small for his type of operation.

Today’s market shows consumers are becoming increasingly health-conscious and environmentally aware, thus the organic sector has been sprung into life. It is now recognised world wide as one of the most dynamic growth areas in the international food market. I have listed below some of the outlets which offer a complete range of organic produce and, with the increase in awareness, it will not take long for organic foods to become readily available across our state.

Earth Market

Subiaco Mews

375 Hay Street

Subiaco 9382 2266

Healthy Valley Organics

28 Drynan Street

Bayswater 9371 9903

Manna Wholefoods

274 South Tce

South Fremantle 9335 7995

Organic Farm Food Shop

227 Oxford Street

Leederville 9443 5696

Organic Nature

101 Flora Tce

North Beach 9447 9417

Bio Dynamic Wholefoods

Canning Vale Markets

9455 1171

‘Go Organic’– your on line delivery service

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