By Ali Webb

Ahhh… can  you smell that? It smells pretty delicious doesn’t it? A blend of crisp chills, sunshine, wood fire and slow cooking all combined. Yep, it must be Autumn.

What an  excellent time of year it is, especially in the west. There’s something about this season that makes me want to cook. Hardcore cook, as in live off the fat o’ the land, tend to the rabbits and get all Steinbeck in the kitchen.

Seasonal is best

We are very lucky in the west to have so many great fruit and vegetable grocers and markets. But with all types of fruit and vegetables being available all year round in the major supermarkets it is difficult to know what is in season, and what has been grown locally.

Rino from Vari’s Organics in West Footscray suggests you get to know your local grocer and ask them where their produce has come from.

He explains that in autumn, grapes, strawberries and melons are coming to the end of their seasons, and soon we will see apples, pears and persimmons gracing our grocer’s shelves. When the cooler months arrive, the citrus lines come in.

“We’re awaiting the start of the mandarins and navel oranges season. However, biting into a crisp sweet apple is the best at this time of the year – our favourite family dish is a homemade hot apple pie.

Organic is real

“It’s important to buy seasonal fruit and veg, because you are then following the natural growing and planting cycle. Nothing artificial is added when growing organic fruit and veg, which of course is beneficial to our health and the environment.

“Fewer food miles means less pollution by transportation, and organic growing methods ensure we are taking care of our planet by putting back nutrients into the soil. This benefits both future crops and future generations.

Support your local producer

“It’s also important to remember that if you buy local, you are supporting local farmers. It gives them a fair go and stops them being squeezed out by large farming organisations, predominantly controlled by the supermarkets, who then import and export fresh produce all over the world.”

While I’m a massive fan of Vari’s Organic produce (we purchase a fruit and veg box every week for $35 which covers our little family), I’ve become inspired by my neighbour who dropped two sweet pumpkins, along with other garden produce, on our doorstep the other day.

There’s something so lovely about picking and eating food, knowing exactly where it came from. I’ve planted kale, chick peas (I’ve never grown these before), eggplant, beans and chillis in a newly developed vegie patch in our front yard (how much more Yarraville can you get). I’m so excited to swap my vegie goods for my neighbour’s lemons when the season kicks in.

Get out into it

It certainly ‘tis the season to get outdoors and explore the local farmer’s markets or take a sweet trip out to one of the sublime country towns within an hour of the west. It’s not just the produce drawing me outside, but the sensational colours of the trees and that delicious smell that winter is on its way.

Too cold? Grab a parka and some boots and get chomping.

Looking for country inspiration?  Head to Trentham SpudFest on Saturday 7 May, and celebrate all things potato. More info at www.trenthamspudfest.org.au

Looking to purchase awesome in season produce? Vari’s Organics puts together delicious fruit and vegie boxes from $35 and delivers to the inner west or you can make your seasonal selection in store at 590 Barkly Street, West Footscray. Head to www.varisorganics.com.au





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