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8 July, 2021

Local Food Feasts spreads awareness

REDUCING food miles and supporting local farmers by eating locally-grown produce is a cause that is gathering momentum across the world, as people become more aware of the social and environmental impacts of their consumer choices.

Il Chiosco restaurant owners Silvano Giorgetti (left) and Matteo Guzzo (centre), with staff Dylan and Mauro with the ‘Local Food Feast’ they prepared

World Localization Day is celebrated in the leadup to June 20 with local food feast events and online panels and workshops, and this year it was celebrated in Cairns for the first time.

Cairns local Beatrice Lucas organised three ‘Local Food Feasts’ with her friends and neighbours, including two ‘bring and share’ local food breakfasts with yoga groups in Kewarra Beach on June 4 and 7, and a dinner provided by Il Chiosco Restaurant in Trinity Beach on June 13.

“Basically, by buying local foods from local farmers, we support a local economy and avoid those food miles that are counted nowhere: food grown in one place, processed in another place, packaged in another place and then sent back to us after travelling hundreds or even thousands of miles,” said Ms Lucas.

“For example, local bananas sent to southern cities to be processed and sent back up here to the supermarket.”

Beatrice said it wasn’t easy to find a restaurant to participate, as many were struggling with staff shortages, but ‘Il Chiosco’ chef Matteo Guzzo and team took on the challenge and prepared a special menu for the night, of Italian food with local ingredients.

Of course, many restaurants including Il Chiosco already use some locally-sourced produce, but Ms Lucas’ event challenged the chefs to come up with a menu that was specifically centred around local ingredients.

“Being an Italian restaurant, 80 per cent of our product is normally imported from Italy,” said Mr Guzzo.

“So, we did accept the challenge to produce a fusion of Italian with Far North Queensland produce.”

The menu prepared for Ms Lucas’ table of 14 friends and neighbours was a pumpkin and fetta cheese arancini starter, followed by generous serves of mains, including vegetarian lasagne with camembert besciamel, chicken cacciatore, and fettuccine norma with eggplant, cherry tomatoes and basil topped with ricotta cheese. Dessert was rainforest honey pannacotta with macadamia crunch.

Mr Guzzo said the success of the night and newfound contacts with suppliers encouraged him to consider holding more localised menu nights in future for more guests to enjoy.

“Localisation is important, especially in these times, when everyone has to adapt to the conditions of COVID. It’s important to help out our neighbours,” he said.

World Localization Day is a project of global not-for-profit organisation Local Futures. 

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