In our third Blog about Plant-Based Eating from around the world, we share that our homegrown heroes are many and varied. Chances are you have tried lemon myrtle tea or found finger lime at a farmers market, while Wattleseed and Davidson’s plums are more frequently showing up in commercial desserts. Kakadu plum has gained a reputation and international recognition as a medicinal food.
While we explore native foods, we also look at ways to source non-native ingredients closer to home thanks to Tasmanian ingenuity.
Native Plums – Kakadu Plum and Davidson’s Plum
Kakadu Plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) is the world’s highest plant source of vitamin C(1) which is reported to be more than 900 times higher than blueberries. (2) Aside from Vitamin C, this little powerhouse plum has various other antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and anthocyanins at high levels. (2) Antioxidants have been associated with the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological degenerative disorders and are associated with reducing obesity. (2) This north Australian bounty is typically found in powdered form in health food stores, often combined with other sources of Vitamin C.
Davidson’s Plum (Davidsonia Pruriens) has been commercially cultivated in Australia since the 1990s(3) and is described as tasting intensely sour due to a high amount of acid with very little sugar counteract it. (4) The purple fruit is rich in flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols such as anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins(4) which give the fruit its rich purple hue. The potency of its antioxidant activity has been explored via studies that have shown anti-proliferative activity against various cancer cells. (5) Interestingly, the current production volume exceeds market demands(3), and it has been studied to use as a source of natural food colour for its natural pigments. (3)
Wattleseed (Acacia spp.) is a well-known staple food within indigenous communities in Australia. (6) There are several varieties, but Acacia Victoriae is commonly used in the Australian bushfood/bush tucker industry. (6) Their composition resembles that of the legume family with their nutrient content being much higher in energy, protein and fat than other cereal crops such as wheat and rice. (1) The seeds are also rich in dietary fibre and a study of four species. Each variety was good sources of important essential minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and zinc. (6)
Commercially, it can be found as flour and incorporated into bread, damper, biscuits and pasta. (6) Roasted ground wattleseed has a nutty flavour and therefore works well when added to desserts and chocolate(6) and as a coffee substitute.
Originating from eastern Australia(7), Macadamias are noteworthy enough to mention, even if they are already a part of your staple diet. Macadamia nuts are a rich source of mono-unsaturated fats(8) and contain polyphenol compounds. (9) The oil can easily replace olive oil or butter, especially in baked goods and provides a different flavour profile to salad dressing or roasted vegetables. Macadamia nut butter is an indulgent alternative to the humble peanut, while the nuts themselves make for an excellent snack choice when eaten in moderation.
Tasmanian Alternatives – Quinoa and Seaweed (Plant-Based Eating from around the World)
Look to Tasmania when sourcing health foods like quinoa and seaweed to reduce your carbon footprint and know your food’s origin. While most quinoa on the supermarket shelves is grown in South America, Tasmanian quinoa is available if you know where to look. Seaweed is usually sourced from Japan, although other areas are sourced, such as Nova Scotia. To keep it homegrown, look for Wakame, found around the Tassie coast and often available in health food stores.
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts. (Plant-Based Eating from around the World)
Australia really does abound in nature’s gifts, both rich and rare! Whether you already try to source foods from your local farmers’ markets or look out for Australian made products on the supermarket shelves, keep an eye out for these native foods wherever they may appear – perhaps even in your own backyard!