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Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

Staying Healthy: 4 Foods to Beat the Winter Chill

If you’re ready for some inspiration for the kitchen, these are the best comfort foods guaranteed to warm you up this winter:

Soup: Not only is soup a cost-effective meal that will feed the whole family, but it’s also a healthy choice, with many soups packed with vegetables and a hearty broth. While chicken and vegetable soup is a classic, why not try some African herbs and spices to cook fresh fish pepper soup for a chilli kick?

2. Casseroles and bakes: Try a comfort food staple that offers a delightful combination of tender meat and hearty vegetables, like a smokey tomato chicken bake or a beef stroganoff, that will warm you from the inside out.

3. Curries: Nothing warms you up faster than a spicy Thai red chicken curry or an Indian vegetable curry with chickpeas. Curry is a perfect choice for winter as its generous use of warming spices like ginger, turmeric, and chilli adds depth of flavour and helps keep you warm.

4. Something sweet: Don’t forget to enjoy a special dessert now and then to warm up, like a delicious sticky date pudding or chocolate fondant.

If you’re looking for a convenient way to enjoy these winter comfort foods without compromising taste and nutrition, ready-made meal services like Gourmet Dinner Service have you covered. With their expertise in slow-cooked stews and casseroles, spicy curries and nourishing soups, you can experience the best comfort food without the hassle of cooking from scratch.

Author Bio

Johanna O’Sullivan is a Marketing and Communications Manager at Gourmet Dinner Service. With a background in economics, a passion for food, and expertise in nutrition, she helps customers achieve their wellness goals. Johanna is an experienced writer and contributor to online publications specialising in health. She loves cooking from scratch with healthy ingredients & values fresh, ready-to-eat meals for their convenience.

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How To Start And Build A Successful Home-Based Food Business In Australia.

We interviewed Amara Okoroafor, founder of Michiz Foods Pty Ltd, who shared three critical qualities for starting and growing a successful home-based food business.

If you are looking to start or grow your home-based food business and have questions, you can add them in the comment section. Amara, who has successfully grown her own business since migrating to Australia 8 years ago, is happy to share some insights from her experience with you.

Experience-based insights from a successful entrepreneur who built her home-based food business from scratch.

Video Content Summary

Starting and making a business successful requires more than having a great product or service. Personal growth and interpersonal skills are just as significant, if not more, in building a long-lasting business. Here are three essential tips to keep in mind when starting your business:

  1. Focus on Personal Growth

Before leading a successful business, you must understand your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths while working on your weaknesses. Customers want to avoid dealing with a cranky person, and good customer service can make up for a less-than-perfect product. Interpersonal skills are crucial in a selling business; if your skills in this area could be better, you’re likely to retain business.

  1. Give Your Customers the Best

Don’t cut corners, even if it means adding a few extra dollars to the price. Communicate with your clients and explain why prices are different. When customers are comfortable with you and understand you are not trying to rip them off, they’ll be happy to spend their money with you. Providing excellent customer service and high-quality products is critical to building a loyal customer base.

  1. Be Resilient

Building a business is not always easy, and sometimes, things don’t go as planned. You must be resilient and able to handle setbacks. If you must cry, cry, but then put on your big girl pants and get back to work. Take feedback and use it to improve your product or service. Don’t give up, and always be present in your business.

Starting a business takes hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn and grow. By focusing on personal growth, providing the best for your customers, and being resilient, you can build a successful, lasting business. Remember that there will be tough times, but you can overcome any obstacle with perseverance and take your business to the next level.

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Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

6 Benefits of Choosing Online Food Shopping Over Traditional Stores

My Experience And Thoughts.

As someone who loved visiting local shops, I was hesitant to switch to online grocery shopping until my life became very busy. However, I realized how much time and energy I was wasting by physically going to different shops near me. Now, I can confidently say that online grocery shopping has saved me hundreds of dollars each month and made my life a lot easier. Here are seven benefits of choosing online food shopping over traditional stores:

Key Benefits

  1. Savings from non-impulsive purchases
  2. Better budget control
  3. More savings from wrong billing at the payment point.
  4. Convenience and Time-Saving Benefits
  5. More product choices 
  6. More value for Money with Competitive Pricing and Exclusive Deals
  1. Convenient Delivery Options

Online shopping is great for making planned purchases and avoiding impulsive buys. It allows you to easily search for specific items, compare prices, and make informed decisions. You can keep track of your total cart cost as you add items, which helps avoid any unpleasant surprises at checkout. In a physical store, the temptation to buy on impulse is stronger, but online shopping lets you purchase only what you need, saving you money in the long run.

  1. Better budget control

Are you looking for a better way to control your grocery budget? Shopping in traditional brick-and-mortar stores can make it tricky to stick to a budget. However, online food shopping offers a standout advantage – it lets you scrutinize and refine your shopping cart before making the final purchase. Unlike in a physical store, it can be hard to keep track of the cost of items when shopping for many things. But with online shopping, you can remove the guesswork associated with traditional purchases. Real-time cost calculations are available with each addition to your virtual cart. This feature allows you to track your expenses better and prevents unwelcome surprises at the checkout.

  1. Save more from wrong billing at the payment point.

Do you sometimes pick up products on specials or attractive prices, only to face a surprise price hike at checkout? I know the feeling. Once, I picked up a bottle of oil at $14, only to be charged almost $16 at checkout. Although you can get a full refund and a free product if you discover these errors after payment at major supermarkets, think about how many of these price hikes go unnoticed. With online shopping, there are no surprises. What you see is what you pay. It’s that simple.

  1. Convenience and Time-Saving Benefits

Online food shopping offers convenience and time-saving benefits, making local shopping a comfortable experience. Who wants to deal with long queues, crowded aisles, and spend so much time shopping around town? During my holiday, I was interested in exploring artisanal food products from small businesses for healthier and tastier food items. However, it was tough to do so without eating up my precious holiday time. Fortunately, community marketplaces like Food Markies have come to the rescue by making it easy, convenient, and time-saving to discover and shop instantly with multiple local food providers. This is great for both tourists and residents who want to shop around without spending hours going from shop to shop or missing out on unique products.

  1. Get More Value for Your Money with Competitive Pricing and Exclusive Deals.

Shopping for groceries online is not only convenient, but it also offers many benefits. Online retailers have lower overhead costs than physical stores, which means they can offer more competitive prices. Additionally, exclusive deals and promotions are available only to online shoppers. You can save even more money by taking advantage of loyalty programs, frequent shopper discounts, and free delivery options. It’s a win-win situation!

  1. Convenient Delivery Options

Do you hate waiting in long lines and struggling to find a parking spot when grocery shopping? Well, online grocery shopping might just be the solution you need! With online shopping, you can save time, enjoy a wide selection of products, and benefit from the convenience of having your groceries delivered right to your doorstep. Plus, you can take advantage of same-day or next-day scheduled deliveries, which means you don’t have to wait long to receive your order. Moreover, many platforms offer flexible delivery time slots, allowing you to choose a delivery time that best suits your busy schedule. So, go ahead and enjoy your free time while your groceries are conveniently delivered to you!

Final Thoughts

As a busy mum, working professional, and student who loves to save money for holidays and investments, I’ve discovered that online food shopping is convenient, saves time and helps me be more intentional about how I spend my money. It also helps me to save more to achieve my personal goals. For those living in Nowra, NSW, Food Markies local marketplace is a great option to take advantage of these benefits while supporting a local business. The platform offers access to quality food products sold by people in my community, which is great because it keeps things local and benefits locals. So why not try online food shopping and see the difference it can make in your grocery shopping experience?

FAQs:

Is online food shopping safe? Yes, reputable online websites have secure payment systems and hygiene protocols.

– Is online food shopping more expensive? Not necessarily! While some specialty items cost more, competitive pricing and exclusive deals can often lead to savings compared to traditional stores.

– What happens if I receive damaged or incorrect products? Reputable platforms have customer service teams to address such issues and offer replacements or refunds.

– Can I choose my delivery time slot? Yes, most platforms offer flexible time slots to choose from.

– Can I track my order? Yes, most platforms offer order tracking so you can see precisely when your groceries will arrive.

We would love to hear from you. Have you ever experienced a price increase at store payment points? Does online shopping help you avoid impulse buying? Please share your experience with our readers, and let’s learn something new from you. Share your thoughts with us.

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Business resources Business startup Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

30 Essential Tools A Chef Can’t Live Without

A good chef can’t do without good tools in the kitchen. Whether you’re making fancy dishes or simple ones, having the right things helps. In this guide, we’ll show you 30 important tools every chef should have. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to cooking or a pro; these tools are great for your kitchen! Let’s check out the list, starting with the most important ones.

  1. Chef’s Knife
  2. Cutting Board
  3. Measuring Cups and Spoons
  4. Honing Steel
  5. Spatulas
  6. Chef’s Bag
  7. Tongs
  8. Kitchen Shears (scissors)
  9. Mixing Bowls
  10. Whisk
  1. Paring Knife
  2. Strainer/Sieve
  3. Thermometers
  4. Mixing Spoons
  5. Peeler
  6. Garlic Press
  7. Chef’s Uniform and Apron
  8. Oven Mitts or Pot Holders
  9. Colander
  10. Blender/Food Process
  1. Rolling Pin
  2. Mandoline
  3. Pepper Mill and Salt Grinder
  4. Microplane
  5. Pastry Brush
  6. Salad Spinner
  7. Can Opener
  8. Markers
  9. Kitchen Scale
  10. Utility Knife

1. Chef’s Knife

This one goes without saying: a chef’s knife is the cornerstone of any kitchen. Its versatility in chopping, slicing, and dicing makes it an absolute must-have for every chef. A high-quality chef’s knife is your trusted companion, from precision cuts to swift mincing. Chef knives come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If you’re interested in finding the perfect one for you, check out our comprehensive chef knife guide

2. Cutting Board

Pair your chef’s knife with a durable cutting board. Wooden or plastic, choose one that suits your preferences, ensuring a clean and hygienic surface for food preparation. It’s also worth exploring Bamboo cutting boards, which are very environmentally friendly and more stain/liquid resistant than traditional wooden cutting boards!

3. Measuring Cups and Spoons

Precision is paramount in cooking and baking. With exact measurements, you can perfectly recreate your fabulous creations and follow a good recipe. 

4. Honing Steel

Keep your knives sharp and long-lasting with your own honing steel! Although it may seem counter-intuitive, a sharp knife is much safer than a dull or blunt one! Making sure to periodically hone your knives will also ensure they last longer, saving money in the long run!

5. Spatulas

Both solid and slotted spatulas are your partners for flawless flipping, stirring, and serving. Whether for making deserts of savoury sauces, a solid spatula ensures no wastage! 

6. Chef’s Bag

Keep your essential tools organised and ready, ensuring you’re always cooking with confidence, whether in your kitchen or on a culinary adventure.

7. Tongs

A versatile and reliable tool for flipping, tossing, and serving. Perfect for cooking steaks, meats and much more!

8. Kitchen Shears (scissors)

From snipping herbs to tackling packaging, versatile kitchen shears are your culinary multitool.

9. Mixing Bowls

Mixing bowls these days are often multifunctional and can be used for mixing, marinating, and preparing a host of delectable dishes. You’ll often find all types of mixing bowls in my fridge, prepping for tonight’s dinner! 

10. Whisk

Whether you’re making chef basics like an omelette or something more delectable.

11. Paring Knife:

The paring knife is a smaller, more refined version of the chef knife, perfect for delicate tasks like peeling, trimming, and creating intricate garnishes.

12. Strainer/Sieve

Drain liquids and sift dry ingredients with precision. Make sure to add this to your kitchen! 

13. Thermometers

Cook with confidence using instant-read and probe thermometers, ensuring your dishes are cooked to perfection and reduce the chances of foodborne illnesses. 

14. Mixing Spoons

Wooden or silicone, these utensils are essential for stirring, mixing, and scraping. Perfectly paired with mixing bowls! 

15. Peeler

Can’t get your head around a paring knife? Easily peel fruits and vegetables for effortless prep with a peeler! 

16. Garlic Press

Not a fan of stinky garlic fingers? Avoid cutting and smashing garlic with a garlic press! Effortlessly mince garlic cloves for robust flavour in your dishes. 

17. Chef’s Uniform and Apron

Dress the part and protect your attire with a comfortable chef’s uniform and apron.

18. Oven Mitts or Pot Holders

There’s nothing worse than burning your hands in the kitchen. Protect your hands from hot surfaces while handling pots and pans with oven mitts and pot holders.

19. Colander

Drain pasta, wash vegetables, and more with this kitchen workhorse.

20. Blender/Food Processor

Blend, puree, and process ingredients for sauces and soups more easily with your blender/food processor. 

21. Rolling Pin

An iconic kitchen tool, a rolling pin is a must-have for creating perfectly rolled dough for pastries and baked goods.

22. Mandoline

Kitchen mandoline can quickly slice ingredients, achieving uniform slices of fruits and vegetables for stunning presentations.

23. Pepper Mill and Salt Grinder

Elevate your dishes with freshly ground pepper and salt, the two most important ingredients in savour cooking.

24. Microplane

Grate spices, zest citrus, and add texture to your creations. Leave behind the bitter pith of citrus fruits.

25. Pastry Brush

Apply sauces, butter, and egg washes for that perfect finishing touch. A must-have for any kitchen! 

26. Salad Spinner

Don’t dilute your greens with excessive water. Use a salad spinner to rinse and dry greens and vegetables effortlessly. Perfect for making crispy, delicious salads! 

27. Can Opener

Not all cans are created equal. Some need a can opener! Open canned goods with ease for quick and convenient prep.

28. Markers

Labelling and marking ingredients and sauces is an important part of any chef’s day as they keep your kitchen organised and safe! 

29. Kitchen Scale

Kitchen scales are a super handy utensil for any chef, ensuring precise measurements for baking and cooking success. Reduce cleanup by mixing in a single bowl! 

30. Utility Knife

Designed to be lightweight and easy to use, a utility knife is a versatile mid-sized knife for a variety of cutting tasks.

Conclusion:

Start with these 30 important tools, and you’ll be ready to tackle any cooking job. These tools, like a good knife and a chef’s bag, help you become a great cook. So, whether you’re making fancy dishes or family favourites, you’ve got the right tools for the job.

Do you think we missed any tools? Let us know in the comments!

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Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

Shoalhaven’s First Waste-Free ‘Milk On Tap’


Hear the gush of your fresh milk flowing effortlessly from a clean tap. You don’t have to imagine it; milk on tap is already here in the Shoalhaven region!

We’ve got some fantastic news that will change how you think about buying your family’s milk. Nowra has stepped up to the plate and become an early pioneer in New South Wales to offer Milk On Tap. 

Imagine strolling into your favourite local organic food store in Nowra and discovering a whole new way to enjoy your daily milk. Thanks to a remarkable innovation by The Udder Way, a Tasmanian company, you can now experience Tilba Dairy Jersey Milk on tap right here in Nowra! But what makes this even more important is that It’s clean and green.

This means that every drop of that creamy, delicious Jersey milk goodness is delivered to you without a hint of waste. Not a single bit of waste! It is a win-win for both consumers of milk and the environment.

Have you ever thought about the plastic waste that comes from milk? It’s been a tricky issue because fresh milk has strict regulations, and finding alternatives was no easy feat. But guess what? The Udder Way and Bomo Bulk have tackled this head-on. Charlie Tindall, the sales representative from The Udder Way in Tasmania, shared, “With the option of bottle reuse, you’re now only having to pay for the milk.” That’s right – the extra costs tied to glass bottling have been eliminated, making it a more affordable and eco-friendly choice.

When they did the maths, they found that by making this switch, more than 72 individual plastic bottles were not wasted in the first few weeks of implementation, and more plastic will be reduced as more people switch over. With the potential of 432 bottles saved per week, it is estimated that would save approximately 22,464 plastic bottles from landfill each year. Isn’t that incredible?

The amazing person behind this latest innovation is none other than a local businesswoman, Jessica from Bomo Bulk, who we are so fortunate to have as one of the vendors on Food Markies’ local online market. Bomo Bulk has been your go-to destination in Nowra for all things organic food for the past two years. So, it was only natural for them to take the lead in offering a waste-free milk refilling station. Now, you can grab a glass milk bottle and fill it up over and over again with Tilba Dairy’s delicious creamy Jersey milk. No more dealing with plastic milk bottles that pile up in our rubbish bins.

Jessica shared that having fresh milk on tap had been part of her vision since opening her store. However, she had been unable to implement it until she found a business that could collaborate with her to make her vision a reality. Once she learned of the Udder Way’s innovative patent system,  talks began, and with the Tilba Dairy on board, fresh milk on tap became a reality.

We congratulate Jessica and Bomo Bulk for their incredible impact by being the first milk on tap in Shoalhaven and reducing our waste. 

Let us know what you think about the fresh milk on the milk tap concept. Leave a comment below.

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Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

The Story Behind Vasa’s Epicurean Food Legacy

Vasa grew up as a farmer in a small village in Northern Macedonia, where she grew tobacco and many fruits and vegetables, including chillies, leeks, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, and cucumbers, which she would take to the market each week with her family. It also supplied their family with fresh and nutritious food.

When Vasa moved to Australia with her husband Vojo in 1969, she continued the food-growing traditions they had learnt while growing up by planting a large range of vegetables in their Sydney backyard. 

She loved great-tasting food and would source many heirlooms and heritage varieties of each type to ensure she could match the flavours she had as a kid. She would share that love with others and give bags of homegrown food to family and friends when they visited. 

Her love for eating fresh, homegrown food didn’t stop there! In 2001, Vasa and Vojo bought a small farm in Wandandian, where they expanded their food growing by planting over a quarter acre of vegetables in their garden, including over 150 fruit and nut trees….as a hobby, all dug and picked by hand.

Vasa’s influence rubbed off onto her son Vele, who was always helping with their garden and property infrastructure needs, and he too found that eating homegrown was far better for physical and mental health, especially when all things were done using manual methods, digging and planting by hand.

As garlic was a family dinner table favourite, in 2018, her son Vele began his first test crop of garlic on the Wandandian property. What he discovered was that Vasa and Vojo had had no success growing garlic due to the wrong seed having been sourced. Vele’s trial was a success, leading him to expand his garlic farm over the last few seasons and sell it through online food markets like Food Markies. Ensuring that Vasa’s legacy would continue throughout the community.

In 2022, Vasa sold her Wandandian property and moved closer to her son’s farm near Cooma, where together, they continued growing garlic. Vele launched the new business “Garlic Kingdom Australia“, which grows and distributes for several local growers and anticipates that 1.5 tonnes will be grown in the 2023 season.

Vasa’s passion and love for great food have influenced Vele and her family, friends and the local community. Vele would like to thank those who are in the Garlic Kingdom‘s grower network and all the customers who have bought their products throughout the years. He is so grateful for your support of his family and the garlic he grows.

Would you like to read inspiring stories about individuals in the Shoalhaven region who are making a difference in our local food scene? Or Is there someone you know whose story deserves to be told? Please leave a comment below.

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Food & Well being Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

Winter Warmers: How to Stay Healthy While Enjoying Your Favourite Comfort Foods

As the chilly weather sets in, there’s nothing like indulging in comforting foods that warm the body and soul. Grab a coffee or tea, and let’s explore the science behind comfort foods and easy tips for staying healthy in winter.

The Science Behind Comfort Food

Have you ever wondered why certain foods can uplift our spirits and make us feel better? It turns out there’s a scientific explanation behind it.

Comfort foods, often associated with nostalgic and sentimental value, can trigger the release of feel-good chemicals in our brains. They provide a sense of familiarity, security and emotional satisfaction. It may be a special soup or casserole your mum made whenever you were feeling under the weather as a child or a grandparent’s home cooking.

comfort food

Indulging in comfort foods doesn’t have to mean compromising your health. With a few mindful choices and creative tweaks, you can enjoy your favourite comfort foods while nourishing your body through the cooler months.

Why Do I Eat More in Winter?

You’re not alone if you find yourself eating more during colder months. During winter, many of us experience an increased appetite and find ourselves craving heartier, calorie-rich foods. There are several reasons why this occurs:

  1. Reduced sunlight exposure during winter affects our circadian rhythms and can lead to hormonal changes. The decrease in daylight hours can disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate appetite, such as leptin and ghrelin. As a result, we may feel hungrier and have a stronger urge to consume more food.
  2. Some people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs during winter. SAD can lead to increased cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods, as these can temporarily boost serotonin levels and improve mood.
  3. Cold weather and shorter days can limit outdoor activities and reduce our overall physical activity levels. With less movement and exercise, our calorie expenditure decreases, leading to a potential imbalance between calorie intake and energy expenditure.

Understanding the reasons behind your increased winter appetite can help you make informed choices and maintain a healthy balance.

While it’s natural to crave more food during this time, it’s important to prioritise nutrient-dense meals and incorporate a variety of local fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your diet. By listening to your body, being mindful of portion sizes and engaging in regular physical activity, you can enjoy the comforts of winter while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Tips for Staying Healthy in Winter

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle during winter is essential for overall well-being. Here are some practical tips to help you stay on track:

  1. Prioritise nutrient-rich foods: Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins into your meals. These foods provide essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support your immune system and energise you.
  1. Stay hydrated: It’s easy to forget about drinking enough water during colder months. However, staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining optimal bodily functions. Warm herbal teas, soups and broths are excellent alternatives to ensure you stay hydrated while enjoying comforting beverages.
  1. Stay active: Don’t let the winter chill discourage you from staying active. Keep moving with indoor exercises, try a new workout routine or embrace the cold with a brisk walk in the fresh air. Regular physical activity helps boost your mood and keeps your body strong.
  1. Get adequate rest: Winter is the perfect time to prioritise rest and rejuvenation. Ensure you sleep well each night; quality rest is vital for your immune system and overall well-being.

Winter Wellness: Embrace the Power of Superfoods for a Healthy Season

Incorporating nutrient-dense superfoods into your diet during winter is a great way to support your overall health and well-being. These powerhouse foods are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system, fight off winter illnesses and boost energy levels.

Some of the best superfoods to consider during this time include dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, which are rich in vitamins A, C and K. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits provide a hefty dose of vitamin C, known for its immune-boosting properties. By incorporating these winter superfoods into your diet, you can support your body’s natural defence system and maintain optimal health throughout the season. Read more about what superfoods are and why you need them.

Best Australian Winter Comfort Foods

If you’re ready for some inspiration for the kitchen, these are the best comfort foods guaranteed to warm you up this winter:

Soup: Not only is soup a cost-effective meal that will feed the whole family, but it’s also a healthy choice, with many soups packed with vegetables and a hearty broth. While chicken and vegetable soup is a classic, why not try Thai spiced pumpkin soup for a chilli kick or a creamy cauliflower soup for something different?

2. Casseroles and bakes: Try a comfort food staple that offers a delightful combination of tender meat and hearty vegetables, like a smokey tomato chicken bake or a beef stroganoff, that will warm you from the inside out.

3. Curries: Nothing warms you up faster than a spicy Thai red chicken curry or an Indian vegetable curry with chickpeas. Curry is a perfect choice for winter as its generous use of warming spices like ginger, turmeric and chilli not only adds depth of flavour but also helps to keep you warm.

4. Something sweet: Don’t forget to enjoy a special dessert now and then to warm up, like a delicious sticky date pudding or chocolate fondant.

If you’re looking for a convenient way to enjoy these winter comfort foods without compromising taste and nutrition, ready-made meal services like Gourmet Dinner Service have you covered. With their expertise in slow-cooked stews and casseroles, spicy curries and nourishing soups, you can experience the best comfort food without the hassle of cooking from scratch.

Author Bio

Johanna O’Sullivan is a Marketing and Communications Manager at Gourmet Dinner Service. With a background in economics, a passion for food, and expertise in nutrition, she helps customers achieve their wellness goals. Johanna is an experienced writer and contributor to online publications specialising in health. She loves cooking from scratch with healthy ingredients & values fresh, ready-to-eat meals for their convenience.

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Food & Well being Home gardening Local Foodies' Corner Uncategorized

Microbes: Key Players in Soil Health and Human Well-being.

For a long time, the soil was thought of as something we walked on, built on, buried things in, dug up, and something we grew plants in. But recently, the vital role soil plays in human and planetary health is being recognised. A lot of this “vital role” comes down to the diverse microbial ecosystem in soil, or as we like to call it ‘subterranean workforce’.

Though we cannot see, hear, or feel microbes, they are essential for all life on earth due to their huge diversity in form and function. Nowhere is this truer than in soil, where they are essential in preventing soil erosion, conserving water, promoting plant resilience and growth and breaking down environmental pollutants. They also help fight climate change by capturing and storing atmospheric carbon.

These factors alone are reason enough to sing the praises of microbes; however, research is also showing how the soil microbiome can positively impact human health by boosting our immunity and the nutritional density and flavour of the food we eat.

Historically, soil was associated with its negative impact on humans such as through pathogenic organisms (viruses or parasites), toxins (such as lead or arsenic) or problems in soil causing nutrient deficiency in crops (such as low iodine and iron).  However, in the process of finding solutions to these problems, scientists looked to soil microbes to protect us.  One good example is the majority of antibiotics actually originate from soil microbes.

Evidence suggests that children raised on farms have lower rates of allergy and asthma than urban children, with the main difference being the rich microbe environments of farms and animals. These conditions help regulate the immune response and play a key role in determining the nutrient content of food.

There are many interactions that take place between soil microbes and plant roots. Plants secrete compounds to feed nearby microbes, in return, microbes enable plants to capture essential nutrients they need from soil (such as nitrogen, and phosphorous) and produce a series of chemicals called phytonutrients or, commonly known as antioxidants.

It’s these chemicals that protect plants from pests or other stress factors, and give food its unique flavour, smell and colour. Research shows these chemicals also benefit humans by regulating hormones, stimulating our immune system and slowing the growth of cancer cells.  It’s been said ‘healthy soil equals healthy people’.

It is now widely accepted by soil scientists all over the world that soil with a diverse microbial community promotes plant growth, compared to soil with a limited microbial makeup which suppresses growth. It is also understood microbes communicate and operate in communities and work together in unison with their environments. They can even prewarn a plant that drought conditions are coming! (Soil, M.Evans 2021)

Unfortunately, modern agricultural practices (such as tillage, chemical-based fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides) have been destroying microbial populations in soil, to a point where the nutrients in the food we eat today is said to be 30% lower in nutrients than in our grandparent’s time.

Thankfully there is a growing popularity in land regeneration practices that protect topsoil, producing food with more antioxidants and building diversity and density of soil microbes (biostimulants such as Food2Soil, fall into this category).

Rotating crops and grazing animals, resting pasture, and using cover crops (plants grown to keep soil covered in the offseason) are also valuable ways to reduce topsoil erosion.

The UN reports that if we were to take 2 million of the 5 million acres of degraded land and practice regenerative agriculture, we could pause climate change and give ourselves another 20 years to come up with climate solutions. When I first read this, it was a WOW moment.

So, we know we need to stop practices that are bad for soil and start doing things that we know preserve and protect topsoil and our unseen, underground heroes ‘microbes’.  But how do we get change to happen sooner rather than later?

At Food2Soil we are on a mission to educate people on the connection between soil and health and to change the public perception of soil.  We want to ensure soil is seen not just as dirt but as a wonderous, alive ecosystem essential for human health and all life on the planet.

About the authors

Food2Soil Co-founder Josie Grenfell

Josie’s background is in public health nutrition and dietetics, with particular interest in gastrointestinal complications and the human gut microbiome. She established Little Waste Co sustainable waste consultancy in 2017 and has a long-time passion for gardening and soil health. She spends her spare time with her family, in the garden, active in nature and cooking.

Food2Soil Co-Founder Annabel Schweiger –  Annabel has a cert 4 in commercial cookery, experience working in award-winning restaurants and running a successful market garden. Working as a waste and recycling consultant, establishing Biota Sustainability in 2018. Annabel is a regenerative landholder and a permaculture expert and spends her spare time with her family and animals, gardening, reading and playing basketball.