Posts Tagged ‘Ask a Farmer’
The health world moves in fads. Some fade, some are enduring.
Baby wheat looks like it’s here to stay. You probably know it as wheatgrass. It’s generally sold by the shot (it’s not the best tasting thing) and is said to do excellent things for your immune system.
That’s because the new shoot of wheat is filled with goodies such as chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and enzymes. But chlorophyll makes up about 70 per cent of the grass – hence the green colour.
The western consumption of wheatgrass started in the 1930s as a result of experiments conducted by American nutritionist Charles Schnabel. He used fresh cut grass to nurse dying hens back to health. The hens recovered and produced eggs at a higher rate than the healthy hens.
I recently interviewed Jan Struthers of Wheatgrass Noosa for my Ask a Farmer Feature in the Sunday Mail. She started juicing wheat when she became sick with streptococcus and lupus. At the time wheatgrass was hard to source so she used her training in horticulture and landscape design to grow it and now supplies wheatgrass for both medicinal purposes and also to brides looking for a sleek, modern table centrepiece.
Little do they realise it’s also a Persian tradition to have a vase of wheatgrass on the wedding table as it’s an ancient symbol for fertility.
The best way to consume wheatgrass and reap the benefits is to juice it using a juicer which ‘presses’ the ingredients. Jan sells trays of wheatgrass for $13 each.
This is how she grows it.
If you’ve watched a TV cooking show lately (who hasn’t) then you probably know a little bit about Verjuice.
It’s a favourite with Maggie Beer. The fellows on Masterchef are partial to a drop, as are the contestants on MKR.
But what is it?
I have a bottle in my cupboard. The label says can be used as a substitute for lemon in dressings and wine in cooking.
I recently interviewed Vinegar and Verjuice producer, Ian Henderson from Lirah Vinegar at Ballandean.
He used to work in the wine industry but now his sole focus is on producing grapes for vinegar and verjuice. He makes a lot of it, to bottle under his own label and for other companies to use in their own products.
Ian jokes that he deals acid. That’s essentially what vinegar is. But what is verjuice?
Ian says it’s grape juice, not vinegar and not wine. It’s not alcoholic, it’s just made from really, really unripe grapes. Ian picks his grapes when they’re still hard. He says the difference between good verjuice and bad is the quality of the grapes
Apparently some companies use their second-grade grapes for their verjuice, whereas Ian says he will only use first-class fruit in his.
He stepped me through how to make vinegar and he told me how to tell a good vinegar from bad. Apparently if vinegar smells or tastes dirty or like fungus something is wrong. Also if it doesn’t taste like fruit it’s not great. Nor should it smell like nail polish remover.
Read on for Ian’s explanation of how he makes vinegar.
My Ask a Farmer page has a new home in the Sunday Mail’s Homeground section.
The format remains unchanged – that is profiling Queensland farmers and asking them to explain just what goes into producing fresh food.
The feedback I receive about the page and the information shared by the farmers is awesome and I hope the feature is helping to breakdown some city-country barriers.
If you know of an interesting Queensland farmer with a great story to tell I’m always on the lookout!
This Sunday I profile Terry O’Leary, a Chinchilla Watermelon Farmer, ahead of the Chinchilla Melon Festival, which runs from February 14 to 17.
Terry also writes a great blog called Melons Cause Insomnia. Why’d you call it that, I asked him.
Because they do, he said.
Hello 2013, hope you’ll be a good one.
We’re back on deck after a relaxing beach holiday. My body is back, not sure my head is yet returned from holidays … small steps.
Our New Year was low key. We took the boys to the beach to watch the fireworks on the Gold Coast, then made the silly decision to head into Surfers Paradise to see the family-friendly Superhero fireworks display at 9pm. We’re suckers for a superhero in our house. Not so keen on the new year traffic in Surfers mind you. Nearly thought we’d be welcoming 2013 from the car park where it took us 1hour to escape!
James and Richard even found time to have holiday haircuts. James asked for ‘spikes down the back like a Stegosaurus’. The hairdresser did her best. It’s a bit like when I go armed with photographs of Elle Macpherson and say, ‘I want to look like this.’
While I was away ABC Country Hour ran a story about rural blogs. Mine was mentioned.
You can listen to the story here – I was featured along with other Queensland rural bloggers Ann Britton, who has a beautiful Outback Photography blog and Terry O’Leary, a watermelon grower who writes a blog called Melons Cause Insomnia.
I think that’s what I love about blogging the most – the insights they offer into other people’s lives. Blogging is such a simple way to tell people your story in your own words. For farmers and anyone in rural production who better to tell your story than you? The rural blogging community is growing all the time and it comes together every Tuesday night on Twitter via the #agchatoz discussion. The Facebook Ask an Aussie Farmer forum is also going gangbusters and is a great place to stop in if you have any questions about how and why farmers do what they do.
Last year was a good year for us and this year is shaping to be great too. Looking forward to sharing stories with you about all the interesting people I meet on my travels.
I love a good cup of tea. Rich, strong, slightly fruity – there’s nothing better.
I’ve been drinking tea for years but have never really stopped to consider where it’s grown, or how it’s grown. I’ve certainly never bothered to spare a thought for the people who grow it … until now.
A few weeks ago I interviewed tea farmer Greg Nicholas for my Ask a Farmer Column which runs in the Courier Mail every Saturday. He and his family have been growing tea on their property in far North Queensland since 1978.
They used to breed cattle and grow bananas but the costs of transporting their products from their remote property became too high. They needed a non-perishable product which wouldn’t mind waiting on farm should they be stranded by the weather (they get a massive 4m of rainfall a year).
So tea it was. Their Daintree Tea Company produces a black Assam variety tea which is sold in Woolworths, independent retailers and online.
Greg says his family’s company is the only one that produces tea that’s been 100 per cent grown and packed in Australia. The competitors blend imported teas in their varieties, he says. And they do it without electricity! Their property is run only with big generators as there is no electricity available north of the Daintree River.
Growing tea is a fairly involved process … Greg explains the paddock to plate journey.