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Australia's native food: more than bush tucker
Adelaide Review, Adelaide  by JOHN DEXTER
01 Aug 2017
General News - Page 65 - 429 words - ID 820002205 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 367.00cm2

A new research partnership with aims to further develop the Australian native food industry was announced recently, bringing together chef Jock Zonfriiio's Orana Foundation and the University of Adelaide.

The two organisations will work together over a two-year period with the aim of building the still fledgling Australian native food industry into an indispensable part of Australian culinary culture, thanks to a $1.25 million state government grant.

The Orana Foundation and the University of Adelaide want to return the benefits of resulting research - and potential industiy - to the hands of the Indigenous communities from where the produce and knowledge originally hails.

"This project is about the collision between scientific knowledge and culinary exploration," Professor Andy Lowe, University of Adelaide's Food Innovation director, tells The Adelaide Review.

Noting previous explorations of Australian native produce, Lowe says we're past the point of simply seeing Australian flora as "bush tucker", and that there is strong potential for growth and culinary contribution on a global scale.

"There's a real sense now that the time is right to have a go at the Australian native food industiy," Lowe says. "Out of 50,000 Australian plant varieties, there is only one that is regularly used around the world: the macadamia. We're going to be asking: what are the native plants that will produce new flavours and a new Australian cuisine?" Zonfrillo, who is the owner and executive chef of the acclaimed Restaurant Orana, says that he is "excited to see this project come to life" in a press statement.

"It is critically important for the success of this project that, as a result of this scientific research and analysis, Indigenous communities are able to gain significant benefits from sharing their knowledge, through direct involvement in future cultivation, harvesting and supply of native ingredients."

The research will cover four areas: building a database of native Australian foods, assessing their precise nutritional benefits, exploring their flavour profiles and best methods of preparation, and determining the optimum conditions for their cultivation. A variety of resources will be drawn upon to achieve these goals, including direct consultation with remote Indigenous communities, experimentation between Orana chefs and the university's scientists as well as collaborate with cultural institutions such as the South Australian Museum.

"The SA Museum has an Indigenous Advisoiy Committee already set up, so we will be working with them on that, as well as using their extensive anthropological collections," Lowe says. "The perception around exploiting Indigenous knowledge is something we're veiy conscious of, and don't want to be tarred with."

Caption Text:
lock Zonfrillo and Andy Lowe.

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