From good to great with local produce

Peaks Crossing in the Fassifern Valley

Peak Crossing in the Fassifern Valley, Queensland

I believe, that the difference between a good dish and a great dish, comes down to the quality of your ingredients. There is  no shortage of high-end gourmet products available, but if you are trying to stick to a conservative food budget, you need to find real value in your purchases.

A crucial element of value, is taste. One of my favourite lines from the movie Food, Inc is from Michael Pollan.

‘Now there are tomatoes all year round, grown halfway around the world, picked when it was green, and ripened with ethylene gas. Although it looks like a tomato, it’s kind of a notional tomato. I mean, it’s the idea of a tomato.’

If you want to make your food shopping count, don’t compromise on taste. A cheap, flavourless tomato, is a waste of money.

Last month, I went camping down at Lake Maroon, near Boonah. On the way back to Brisbane we drove through Peak Crossing. (View  Map)

I pulled over at a road side stall and grabbed some tomatoes, onions and carrots.

After a brief chat to the farmer, who came out to greet me (and maybe check I was paying), I ticked my first box… I know the provenance of my food. There is more behind this basic ethos and taste is definitely a feature.  Those tomatoes, carrots and onions tasted amazing!

These carrots were juicy, crunchy and delicious!

Road side produce stall at Peak Crossing, Queensland. The cherry tomatoes were mouth popping addictive - half the bag was gone on the drive home.

Recently, I sat down and articulated exactly what Small Town Chutney is about. This is a work in progress, but please have a read of my new Food Choices Page.

It is awesome to buy produce from a road side stall, next to the farm it originated from.  I recommend a drive down to Boonah and the surrounding district, but there are plenty of other options that don’t involve travelling to the source:-

  • Get out on the weekends (or even mid-week). There are numerous farmers markets in Brisbane.
  • Develop a relationship with your green grocer. Let them know you want local produce. You might be surprised how much they already stock.
  • Subscribe to Food Connect. Fresh produce is sourced from 80 Local farmers within 5 hours from Brisbane. Pick up your weekly harvest box from a ‘city cousin’ located in various Brisbane suburbs, which is perfect if you are not home to receive day time courier deliveries.
  • Use a home delivery service like Farm Fresh Central or Home Fresh Organics.
  • If you have a back yard or sunny balcony grown your own. The Original-Pick-A-Box has developed a nifty  low maintenance living salad box to make this a bit easier.

Your local, fresh tasty produce, will help turn your food from good to great.

One more thing – If you’re in Boonah on the 2nd or 4th Saturday of the month have a look at the Boonah Country Markets at Springleigh Park.  I had a chat to Pam from Pamela’s Kitchen. Using the bountiful supply of local produce she has created a popular range of chutney, jams, relish, pickles and pineapple honey.

Pamela's Kitchen - Boonah Country Markets. The Tomato Relish and Vegetable Pickles are her best sellers. The pickles are not heavily stewed so they keep some of the vegetables shape & texture. Yum!

I bought some of Pam's pineapple honey which is made from boiling down pineapple skin and a bit of sugar. It is sweet and a bit runnier than honey. I will find a good use for it, just not sure what yet!

* Food Inc, 2008. Film. Directed by Robert Kenner. USA: Participant Media.


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