Organic Expo & Green Show
Soy and I were really excited about attending the Organic Expo & Green Show in Sydney last weekend. The show is in its 6th year and we only got to know about it this year through the blogging community. Have you experienced that phenomenon where once something is brought to your attention, then suddenly you see it everywhere? Like if you’re thinking of buying a red car, suddenly all you seem to see are red cars everywhere because you’re paying more attention to them? Well, that seems to be the case with us and sustainable food. A few days after meeting Michael Croft, I saw some information on this year’s Organic Expo & Green Show, and I definitely wanted to attend to learn a lot more and see what’s out there in the organic and green movement. And it was just meant to be, because Soy and I had already planned to spend that weekend in Sydney. Brilliant!
Another draw card for me was the fact that Kylie Kwong was going to present at the show, and her presentations were titled ‘From paddock to plate’ and ‘Sustainable food and why it tastes better’. Soy and I had never really paid much attention to Kylie’s shows or books, because I think we take Chinese food for granted since it’s what we eat at home and have always eaten at home, and cooking Chinese food comes somewhat naturally. However, Michael had told me that Kylie is one chef who is really passionate about sustainable and ethically grown food, and “walks her talk”. Sure enough, Kylie’s talk and demonstration were absolutely inspiring. She definitely is passionate- Soy, who took this photo, said that she hoped to capture Kylie’s passion and enthusiasm. Kylie told us that 6 years ago, she completely revamped the produce that came into her restaurant, Billy Kwong. This meant that she not only sourced fresh produce direct from farmers who practised organic and/or biodynamic farming, she also completely restocked pantry items like tamari, shoyu, oils and cane sugar. The cane sugar she uses, for instance, is organic and fair trade cane sugar from the Phillippines.
Kylie’s new book, “It Tastes Better” is all about showcasing the people behind the food, and we are introduced to 3 of these people- Paul and Virgnia Kurtz who supply Kylie with biodynamically-grown lamb, and Tony Jenkins, a butcher who distributes Paul and Virginia’s produce in his Balmain butchery. Soy and I instantly feel a connection to these people who value their animals and treat them with such care and respect, and recognise how nature intended food and animals to be grown in order to nourish us. Paul and Virginia run a biodynamic farm, and they describe this as “working with the energies in the soil, and above and below the ground”, “working with nature”, which includes moon phases, for instance. Virginia talks about natural energies that the earth “gives off” at 3am and at 3pm, and she asks the audience if we’ve ever experienced that 3pm slump as we’re sitting in our offices. Do I ever! Just between us, I ‘reward’ myself with a cup of tea at 3 or 3.30pm every day for still being able to function!
Tony cuts a shoulder and some backstraps from the lamb that Paul and Virginia have brought from their farm that morning, so that Kylie can demonstrate some of the recipes from her book. Coming from the farm, the lamb has been pastured i.e. is primarily grass-fed. I think it’s really interesting how Paul and Virginia describe the behaviour of their animals- they are content, they rest, they don’t display a ‘searching’ behaviour that nutrient-starved animals (and people) do. And when Kylie asks what a typical day on the farm looks like, Virginia stresses the importance of not planning the day, because inevitably, something else will need attending to like “you might wake up and a cow might be calving”. She just “feels what the farm needs” and attends to it. I love this idea of “feeling” and then responding accordingly.
The first dish that Kylie makes is this red braised lamb shoulder with roasted garlic and tamari dressing. I’m not really a huuge meat eater, but the smell of the dish, even from the distance we were from the stage, was killing me! Kylie’s masterstock comprised of star anise, cinnamon, aromatics like ginger, spring onions and garlic, and those were the smells wafting over. I’m glad Soy took this photo, as I would have been extremely tempted to reach out and pop a piece into my mouth!
Sang choy bow of lamb fillets is the second dish Kylie makes, and though I am usually dubious of sang choy bow because I feel that it’s a very “Westernised” dish, I do like sang choy bow when we have peking duck, and I love the way Kylie describes it as “a stir fry if thinly sliced hot things that you eat in a lettuce cup”.
And this is the last dish- soft boiled organic eggs with organic carrot and pickled organic beetroot. So simple and looks so delectable! I’ve definitely been inspired by Kylie- by her food, but I think more about her beliefs and principles and the extent to which she has incorporated ethical and sustainable food into her craft on such a large scale.
After the demonstration, Soy and I wandered around the hundreds of exhibitors at the expo. We tried to soak it all in, and here’s just a snapshot of some of the very cool things we liked. Apart from food, there was organic wine, health and beauty products, clothing and gardening. The first photo of this post is aquaponics- something Soy told me about ages ago, so it was good for us to see an actual setup. Marine animals like fish, mussels and yabbies are kept in a tank, they generate nutrients, this water is pumped to veggies sitting on top of the tank, and then the water filtered by the plants is pumped back into the tank! It’s just brilliant and no need for chemical fertilisers or other fake stuff. The guy from ecolicious was full of information, and even refrained from giving me a weird look when I asked if we could keep ornamental fish because I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to kill and eat any yabby/mussel/fish that we reared.
I was SO excited to discover the Super Sprout stall!!! I have been looking for a natural alternative to red food colouring ever since I used an unbelievable amount in my Red Velvet Cake. And I had been looking for beetroot powder long before it was made famous by Zumbo’s macarons on Masterchef! Apparently after that episode aired, all the Sydney stores sold out of beetroot powder! But, I couldn’t find any in Canberra anyway, so I was stoked to finally be able to get my hands on some. More RV coming up!
We also sampled some delicious juice- my favourite was the black cherry…
… some soup from Agapé restaurant. Their pumpkin and sage risotto was brilliant!!!
… and *gasp* GREAT Holy Goat decaf soy coffee. I know decaf and soy and coffee aren’t usually associated with ‘great’, but both Soy and I loved this! More in another post soon!
Of course, I couldn’t help myself and I had to pet the cute baby animals in the petting zoo!
This guinea pig makes me laugh every time I look at it, for some reason! So I hope it’s put a smile on your face too, but also makes you think a little bit about why sustainable and ethical farming should be the future of all our food.
Honey and Soy attended the Organic Expo & Green Show as guests of the show.
Organic Expo & Green Show
Super Sprout powders
Tags: sustainable food