Organic January is Underway

So let me start by wishing you a very happy and healthful 2017! As for us, we are on day two of Organic January. Hooray! Yesterday went smoothly, as I’d done a lot of good preparation beforehand. But I’m sad to say I had hit some interesting bumps in the road in the week or so leading up to New Year when my research discovered:

  • The word ‘organic’ doesn’t necessarily mean what I think it means.
  • There is a good argument for ‘fresh’ over ‘organic’.
  • We simply don’t live in a world right now that enables us to be 100% organic.

So firstly, let’s look at this ‘organic’ label.

There are several wonderful cafes on the Sunshine Coast with the word ‘organic’ either in their name or in their ethos. I listed them out so as to be prepared, but then dug a bit deeper. Were they really organic?

No, sadly. I emailed five of the best and was told over and over that no, not everything was organic. Sadder still, the extent of the organic food might have stopped at coffee, tea and milk.

Dear organic cafes, I implore you, please don’t use the word ‘organic’ in the name of your establishment if you are not in fact 100% organic. Secondly, I also suggest that the best thing you could do would be to label your menu with an organic symbol, just like you do for gluten free or vegetarian options. Trust me, I will buy your organic food and be grateful you were honest.

And by the way, this discrepancy in organic labelling applies to foodstuffs in organic supermarkets too. The front of the package might say it’s organic, but if you read the ingredients, it might not be all it purports to be.

On the upside, there was just ONE cafe who responded that in fact, yes, they were 100% organic. Hooray!! Thank you and congratulations to New Earth Cafe in Coolum. You will be our choice of cafe for the whole of January 🙂

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So what about ‘fresh’ over ‘organic’?

This was a big revelation for me, when I generally assume organic means better. Mostly, I’d say this was true. BUT, a champion of organics here on the coast wrote to me, in response to my question, that the way food is grown has an awful lot to do with the vitality and nutritional value of what you end up consuming. A lot of farmers might be employing permaculture or biodynamic principles, really investing in the soil and the long-term health of their farm, and getting that food to you a day after it’s picked, but not have an organic certification label.

On the other hand, you might have farmers doing the bare minimum for their soil and plants, simply to have an organic label on food they can ask a higher price for. And then there’s food miles. That organic food that is wrapped up tightly in plastic and sitting on the supermarket shelf may have been in transit for weeks or even months before it gets to you and clearly has less nutritional value than food from the conscientious farmer who picked it yesterday. Hmm… gets tricky, does’t it? This one, more than anything else, made me dig deeper into the why of my plan.

Obviously, you want the best of both worlds, someone who is certified organic and who is also invested in producing the highest nutritional value in their food and can get it to you straight after it’s picked. If you’re a local, I can’t endorse Fresh Box enough . They do all this hard research for you and deliver it to your door and the food is fresh, fresh, fresh! You can feel it as soon as you open the box! (Image above of my son whipping off the box lid the second it arrived and helping himself to a carrot.) 

The world isn’t ready for Organic January

This revelation was also a difficult one to swallow. As much as we might want it, there is just a huge gap in the availability of organics right now. Access has improved a lot over the past ten years, for sure. But there’s a long way to go. I often turn up to the ‘organic’ butcher only to find there is no organic chicken, only free-range. Certified organic skincare products are few and far between. Organic cafes (as discussed) simply aren’t. Organic products on the shelf (as I found) are often a mixture of organic and not.

I’ll be honest, this was really deflating. All my shiny new year idealistic ideas of being 100% pure were falling down around me. I had to accept that maybe I’d have to make compromises.

BUT!! Every year it will get better. I truly believe that. The power of the consumer is just that–power. We have to put our money where our mouths are, literally.

So, onward we go with Organic January!

 

 

Feel the Love at Goodness Gracious Cafe

20160524_105802LOVE. This is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Goodness Gracious Gluten Free & Organic Cafe in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast. The women who run this charming abode (Jill and Nicky) radiate love.

But I’ll get back to this. For now, I’m going to sidestep a little to a time in my life when I was really sick. Stay with me…

About thirteen years ago, my health was in a terrible mess, diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), Hashimoto’s Disease, hypothyroidism, a host of rheumatological issues and more. It was an intensely frightening time, unable to work to make the money I needed for the many treatments that doctors and natural therapists claimed would help. Unable to afford them, I had to make Big Life Decisions. But one of the easiest decisions I made was that I needed to invest the little amount of money I had into FOOD. It was clear to me that high quality food would be the basis of everything after that.

I started going to the Northey Street City Farm organic markets each week. And then for whatever reason, I found myself drawn to eating at Govinda’s (Hare Krishna) cafe in Brisbane city. Something that deeply impressed me about the Hare Krishna lifestyle was how important food was in their service and spirituality. So much so, I was told, that to be a person elevated to a food prep position was something of an honour, something that had to be earned. To prepare food in a Hare Krishna kitchen included loving and blessing the food before it was eaten.

Call me crazy if you like, but I felt some deep healing on those Sunday evenings spent at Govinda’s.

And this takes me back to Goodness Gracious Cafe. From the moment you pull up on the footpath you are surrounded by love–in the welcoming chalkboard signs; in the organic garden that’s lovingly tended by these women; in the heart-shaped art pieces hanging from the ceiling; in the locally-made handmade artworks for sale; in the groups of women knitting at the tables, with their rows of stitches becoming blankets for the homeless in the local area; and most certainly, most definitely, in the food.

Everything here is baked on site inside this post-war home on stumps–a home that has a fascinating history including being a railway station master’s home and having had a resident spirit called ‘Alfred’ walking the rooms (who was later ‘released’ when his daughter, who’d also lived in the home, happened upon the cafe and took him home with her).

Jill and Nicky and their friendly staff are always there with a warm smile, knowing many of their customers by name. Their gratitude for living their dream is evident, with the cafe and its customers supporting more than half a dozen different charities, both local and overseas. And their gastronomic creations never let you down.

My favourites include the Turkish delight hot chocolate (with real rose water); the chocolate, blueberry and lavender mud cake (seriously, you MUST try this!); the banana pancakes with homemade caramel sauce and banana ‘nice cream’ (dairy free); the chicken crepes and salad; the paleo lemon bar; and, well, pretty much everything else on the menu too.

There is some kind of deep wisdom that tells us that to provide food with love, and to eat food with love, is one of the most powerful things we can do. That’s why so many of our memories involve food with loved ones. That’s why we say ‘you are what you eat’. That’s why we go home for a ‘home cooked meal’. That’s why we make our loved ones soup when they’re ill.

Hippocrates is reported to have said, “Let food be thy medicine.”

Whether it’s intentional or not, the love and care that comes from these women’s hands infuses every mouthful. Just like my time at Govinda’s all those years ago, I come away from Goodness Gracious every time feeling blessed, nurtured and a little bit healed. And I walk away feeling that the world is a good place after all.

 

Goodness Gracious Cafe: 3 Conn St, Yandina. 

Opening Hours

Mon – Fri  8:00am – 4:00pm

Saturday  7:00am – 2:00pm & Sunday  7:00am – 1:00pm

(This post is part of a series of fortnightly reviews by Josephine Moon and Ashley Jubinville of healthy places to eat on the Sunshine Coast.)

 

Husk & Honey (Food Tour of the Sunshine Coast)

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(A guest post today from my friend and tour partner, Ashley Jubinville, Kitchen Coach.)

Like the quiet little bees that go about their service of pollinating flowers so we can exist – without question or many thanks from us, this little café has been diligently going about “business as usual” in quiet little Nambour for over 4 years! The difference though is that their “business as usual” is really quite extraordinary and so refreshingly authentic.

If the reference was suiting enough already, the café’s name happens to be Husk & Honey AND my café-touring friend Josephine Moon has most recently released her wonderful foodie-fiction book called The Beekeeper’s Secret too (lovingly set on the Sunshine coast)!!! How fitting?! …you probably think I planned that one…. Haha

For those of you diligent foodies out there who are looking for a refreshing break from the stress of finding somewhere that you can eat without concern, the short drive out to the very funky Queen St. in Nambour is highly worth your while. There is not an ounce of gluten to be found anywhere in their kitchen, nor any other grains for that matter, and they make everything from scratch!!! – like everything! Even their tea blends, non-dairy milks, and hot chocolates! I LOVE YOU!

Next time you go, please pass on an extra bit of gratitude on my behalf to the lovely Johnny, Tashi, Sam, & Sarah for me – for their dedication to healthy, homemade goodness, authenticity, and happy service! And for anyone wanting a copy of any of your Josephine Moon books signed by the lovely Jo herself, you MAY just find her writing her next book in the cosy corner of Husk & Honey one day too!

Keep up the great work, smiles, and AWESOME food Husk & Honey – we need more like you to lead the way and help inspire people with what is possible. For all you Sunshine Coasters, lets ‘vote’ wisely with where we choose to spend our dollars – for the future of our food supply like the good bees we can bee!