Tips for buying organic produce
The higher premium for organic foods, because of the more expensive farming practices, means that consumers often want to know whether they should spend a bit extra and buy organic. What does organic mean? And how can you find out whether a product is actually organic?
What is organic?
Organic food is produced using organic farming practices, that is, without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilisers and sold to the consumer without added preservatives.
Organic farming practices are designed to:
*use best environmental practice in farming activities and regenerate the land and soil;
*not use genetically modified organisms (GMOs);
*provide healthy livestock habitats, and
*use recycling and promote self-sustaining biological cycles.
Is organic good for you?
There have been various studies to try to determine whether organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food. There is no one conclusive study. However, it appears that there may be some health benefits, including a higher level of antioxidants in organic food. One study estimated this difference to be between 19 percent and 69 percent higher in organic foods.
One of the main attractions of organic food is the lack of harmful pesticide residue that can be found on non-organic food. Chemical pesticides are used in conventional farming to prevent damage from weeds, insects, rodents and fungus. Pesticide exposure has been linked to increased rates of chronic diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. However, some experts warn that the amount of potential pesticide residue left on food is not sufficiently high in concentration to be harmful.
Another attraction for consumers in purchasing organic food is the farming practices used in producing organic meat and milk which are perceived as being kinder to animals. The livestock are raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics or food treated with pesticides.
Finally, but importantly, taste is another reason people buy organic produce. The taste of organic vegetables, meat and milk is regarded by many people as far superior to the taste of non-organic produce.
The labelling debate
Any food products advertised as “organic” must follow strict guidelines. Countries have different organic certification standards. In Australia, there is a voluntary standard for growers and manufacturers wishing to label their products ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’ (AS 6000–2009).
Some organic products are labelled as “certified” organic, whilst others are not. What is the difference and does it matter?
1. Certified organic
Some products bear a symbol, logo or other trade mark to show that they are certified organic. This certification is provided by various third party, private bodies that have minimum standards required for certification. In Australia, there is a move to try and standardise the organic standards across industries.
A business that labels its product as certified organic must ensure that its product is actually certified and conforms to the relevant certification standards on an ongoing basis.
Being certified as a producer is a big undertaking. In the case of farming practices, it requires developing and maintaining a whole system approach to farming. This process usually takes three years. For example, certified organic status as a farming producer requires a minimum period of three years of verified conformance with standards.
2. Non-certified organic
It is expensive for small producers to have their products certified and many do not pursue certification. In order to claim their product is organic they must still use organic farming practices, however, their farm and products have not undergone a strict certification process.
Come to the markets
For products not “certified” organic, it is difficult for consumers to know whether the product is entirely organic. At the markets, you can speak with stallholders and learn about how their products are farmed or made. Market stallholders also tend to make smaller quantities than large commercial producers and have quality produce.
Come and visit your local markets and speak with the stallholders directly about how they made their product.
[Sources/references] Research with thanks to:
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) “Organic claims”
“Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds” The Guardian, 11 July 2014
Australian Certified Organic “Farming certification”
 “Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds” The Guardian, 11 July 2014 https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/11/organic-food-more-antioxidants-study
My Kids Market NSW (formerly Baby & Kids Market) provides families with the opportunity to buy and sell quality preloved kids items.
The market is filled with local stallholders selling their family’s gently used baby and kids goods that they no longer need. Families can declutter their home and earn some extra cash by recycling items instead of adding them to landfill. Shoppers will enjoy huge savings when buying quality pre loved items at a fraction of the cost of buying new.
The Market is held indoors and is a great day out for the whole family with free kids activities being held all morning! Cash only.
Local stallholders wanted: Pre Loved Stalls $60, Business Stalls $120
Sunday 22nd October – Sutherland Basketball Stadium
Rawson Ave (off Princes Hwy)
9am to 12pm
Two Creeks Honey make pure honey, harvested from the bushland in East Lindfield, Sydney. We find out more about how they started, their prize-winning honey and the benefits of beekeeping.
Owners of Two Creeks Honey, Lynda and Rod Kay, started learning about beekeeping less than three years ago when they joined the North Shore Beekeepers Association and undertook a beekeeping course. They started with two hives and now have twenty hives scattered around East Lindfield and a busy honey-making business.
Lynda says she and her husband “fell in love with beekeeping at the same rate”, enjoying a pastime they can do together. They also found their garden improved ten-fold having its own bees. For example, an orange tree and lemon tree without fruit for about fifteen years are now full with fruit.
The proliferation of hives meant more and more honey which Lynda and Rod wanted to capture and sell. Their honey and honey products are made in East Lindfield and sold at That Great Market in East Lindfield. It doesn’t get more locally made than that. Some of their twenty hives are now hosted by neighbours in East Lindfield who are also enjoying the benefits of having bees in their garden.
Bees will travel up to seven kilometres for food, but they will move to the strongest and nearest source. For the bees at Two Creeks, this is the Garigal National Park. Lynda says, whilst every extraction has its own individual taste, the distinctive flavour of Two Creeks Honey comes from the gum trees in the National Park. These trees produce a lot of pollen and nectar, so the bees can “feast” here.
The flavours in Two Creeks Honey you won’t find in commercial honey, which is usually a blend of honey from different sources. Commercial honey is also heavily processed with heating and filtering. This blending and processing leads to honey that has lost its particular nuance and flavour.
Each hive at Two Creeks makes about 50 kilograms of honey. When there is “nectar-flow” the honey is collected once every two weeks and, otherwise, once a month. At the end of autumn, there must be enough honey left in the hive to sustain it through winter. In late August and September, the hive expands with the birth of thousands of baby bees.
The end of bees?
Bee colony collapse is happening all over the world. Lynda says, about thirty percent of our food requires pollination in order to be produced and bees are the most successful pollinators. This bee crisis doesn’t just impact fruit and vegetable production, but also meat production because of the reliance of livestock on grasses, crops and lucerne for food.
Lynda noticed a lack of bees in their own garden, before acquiring their hives. She thinks the widespread reliance on pesticides and insecticides nowadays is probably largely responsible for this decrease in bees.
Do you want to find out more about beekeeping? There are lots of beekeeping groups and information now available as more and more people are interested in keeping bees and helping pollination.
Come down to That Great Market, East Lindfield, and meet Lynda and Rod and check out their beautiful honey, in the form of liquid honey, creamed honey, and chocolate honey hearts. Their creamed honey is wrapped in paper, old-style, like butter. Last year, they won the Blue Ribbon at the Sydney Royal Easter Show for their creamed honey.
Two Creeks also sell a range of honey products, such as wax candles, lip balm and leather conditioner. Last year, they won the Blue Ribbon and the Champion Ribbon at the Sydney Royal Easter Show for their wax candles.
They are also happy to sell from their premises and will post products too. They make local deliveries of larger quantities of honey.
That Great Market is open on the 3rd Sunday each Month
East Lindfield Community Hall & Surrounds
9 Wellington Road, East Lindfield
9am to 2pm
Applications now open for the Made by Hand – Hazelhurst Art & Design Market on Sunday 8 October.
We are looking for creative and talented stallholders in differing categories; these include Fashion and Accessories, Jewellery, Homewares, Gourmet artisan produce etc.
Made by Hand will include over 60 stall holders, highlighting emerging and established artists, designer makers and local hidden treasures of artisan food producers.
Hazelhurst tutors will host open studios with free demonstrations, free art making activities in the gardens, live music, plus free guided tours of the Regional Gallery exhibition, European Old Masters 1500-1800.
Lots of delicious food and great coffee too.
Email: [email protected].
Sydney Rock ‘n’ Roll & Alternative Market held at Manning Bar and House Uni of Sydney is seeking stallholders for its Sunday 30 July event.
Music related, handmade, unique, retro and vintage traders wanted.
Email [email protected] and please include pics of stock.
Lindfield’s popular monthly lifestyle market is seeking passionate stallholders with quality product..fashion, homewares, jewellery, kids gear, ethical products, craft or are you a fabulous food or gourmet vendor?
We’re always on the lookout for more empowered people to join our team.
#MarrickvilleMarketHall welcomes stallholders to sell their designer, vintage and preloved clothes as well as crafts, fair trade, art, jewellery, candles vinyls and more!
It’s a very popular space. held alongside the Marrickville Organic Food Market each Sunday, including live music on the stage and delicious vegan and vegetarian food. Outside the hall there is also a lovely grass lawn for customers to hang out and watch the kids having a pony ride!
A guide to the best chillies for your cooking
Some people can eat them straight, but for most of us chillies are added to our cooking or maybe our drinks. Chillies can make or break a dish. Here is a guide to the best chillies to buy and use in your cooking.
Chilli – it’s good for you
Chillies belong to the capsicum family, which also includes cayenne pepper, paprika, jalapeno and, of course, capsicum. They are thought to have originated in Mexico.
Chillies are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, which is often called the “anti-infection” vitamin. They can help with fighting sinus congestion.
Capsaicin is the chemical compound that makes chillies taste hot. It is found mostly in the seeds and white membrane inside the chilli, although some also seeps into the flesh. Their spiciness is measured in Scoville heat units. The hotter the chilli, the more capsaicin it contains.
The power of capsaicin is well known. Herbal therapeutic creams use capsaicin to soothe muscles. Pepper spray also uses capsaicin.
Types of chilli
Much of the flavour of a chilli comes from its flesh. Chilli features in cooking all around the world, especially in Asia and Mexico, where they have perfected the balance of flavour and heat.
Here are some of the main types of chillies available in Australia and the types of dishes they are best suited to:
*Bell pepper (very mild): we call these capsicums in Australia. They are not spicy and can be eaten raw or cooked. Add to casseroles, sandwiches, pasta sauces and pizza. Or try them stuffed with rice or quinoa, meat and or vegetables, sprinkled with cheese and baked.
*Long chilli (medium): these can be up to 15 centimetres long. They ripen from green to red. They are the most common type of chilli sold in Australia. Their heat levels will vary depending upon the season. The long green chillies are milder and are perfect for vegetable curries. Add long red chillies to salads, pasta sauces and meat curries.
*Jalapeno (medium): these are five to nine centimetres long. They are picked while green, but will ripen to red. Red jalapeno peppers, dried and smoked, are chipotle peppers. Jalapenos can be eaten fresh or pickled. They are often added to sandwiches, burgers, dips or sprinkled on dishes. Try adding them to your tuna salad.
*Cayenne pepper (medium): the thick skin of these chillies makes them suitable for grinding. They are usually ground to make cayenne powder which can add a kick to your cooking. The peppers were first grown and traded in the city of Cayenne in French Guiana. Try cayenne added with lemon juice as a dressing for dark green leaves, or add a little to an omelette.
*Bird’s eye (hot): these tiny two to four centimetre chillies can be exceptionally hot. They are often used in south-east Asian cooking, such as salads and Indonesia’s sambal ulek (chilli paste).
*Serrano (hot): these small chillies look like bird’s eye chilli but have a rounded tip like jalapenos, and when they ripen they are red, yellow and orange. They are often used in Mexican cooking. Add these to a salsa or chutney.
*Habanero (very hot): these are about five centimetres long and are named after the city of Havana, Cuba, where they were traded. They ripen to yellow, orange and red. These chillies are so hot that you must wear gloves to avoid burning your hands. Add a small amount of these to a spice blend for meat.
To deseed or not deseed?
In the world of chilli, there is considerable debate as to whether or not to deseed chillies. There are two schools of thought:
Seed lovers say do not bother deseeding chillies. They argue you will remove all of their heat and you would be better off adding less chilli, or substituting altogether with capsicum.
Seed removers argue that there is nothing wrong with deseeding chillies. Most of the flavour is contained in the flesh and you will still get some heat from using only the flesh. Also, the majority of the nutrients are contained in the flesh.
If you want to deseed a chilli, snap off the green stem at the end of the chilli, using a sharp knife cut down the length of the chilli to split it into two halves. Using either a knife or a teaspoon, scrape out the seeds.
You can keep the seeds and dry them to use in cooking or plant them to grow your own chilli plants.
When handling chillies, some people like to wear thin gloves. Usually, gloves are only needed for very hot chillies. However, it is good practice to thoroughly wash your hands after handling chillies and be cautious about touching your hands to your eyes—chillies cause a burning sensation if they come into contact with your eyes.
At the markets
Talk to your fresh produce stallholder for the chillies they have available and the best ones for your dish.
Try adding some chilli to your favourite recipes, or try a chilli that you haven’t eaten before. If you overdo it, remember milk based products, like cucumber raita, will soothe the burn.
Research with thanks to:
SBS Food: “The burning question: Do you deseed chillies?” http://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2016/04/19/burning-question-do-you-deseed-chillies
Good Food: “A user’s guide to chillies” http://www.goodfood.com.au/recipes/a-users-guide-to-chillies-20130405-2hczq
Chasing Chilli: “Types of chilli peppers (Chilli 101)” http://chasingchilli.com.au/types-of-chilli-peppers-chilli-101/
The World’s Healthiest Foods “Chilli pepper, dried” http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=29
Surry Hills Markets invite all creatives and fashionistas to apply for stalls!
We want your handmades, your old records, your weird and wonderful old bric-a-brac, your vintage clothes and gorgeous plants.
The Markets are on the first Saturday of every month.
A casual stall costs $70 for a day.
For details and to apply please go to http://shnc.org/events/surry-hills-markets/stallholders/ or call 9356 4977