Book review: Eat Local | Food, Farming and Conversation in the Scenic Rim

By Brenda Fawdon & Christine Sharp

We’re mad about real food. The sort that is grown by local farmers or in home and community gardens, the produce arriving in our kitchen after travelling minimum food miles. There’s something grounded about scrubbing soil off vegies that have been tenderly nurtured, only to be slow-cooked in rustic dishes dressed with herbs from our own garden. Real food. Connected living.

Fortunately for us, the Gold Coast is surrounded by the rich fertile soils of the Scenic Rim, an area which produces a bounty of fruit and vegetables, wine, milk and gourmet produce such as olives, cheeses, jams and relishes. But how much do we know about our local producers?

Eat Local, a gorgeous book by Brenda Fawdon (chef and organic food advocate of Mondo Organics fame) and editor/photographer Christine Sharp in association with the Scenic Rim Regional Council, fills that knowledge gap. It provides a multi-dimensional snapshot of food from the Scenic Rim – conversations with twenty-six producers about food and farming in the ‘green behind the gold’ presented in text and photograph, together with over sixty mouth-watering recipes inspired by local produce.

As the authors travelled around the Scenic Rim interviewing and photographing farmers and producers, “Not only did we gain insight into the dedication, determination and drive…” Christine says in the book’s introduction, “we were moved by their passion – all put heart and soul into their work. For them, it is not simply a job; it is a vocation.”

Whether you’re an avid cook eager to learn more about local food or the friend of someone who’d appreciate the book as a gift, Eat Local is an exquisite hardcover production printed on high quality matte paper with lime green endpapers. It’s a book to digest, rather than one to gather dust.

Content is accessed in three ways: the Table of Contents groups farms by area noting each one’s produce; section pages list the recipes inspired by each producer, with recipes also accessed through the Recipe Index at the back of the book.

Brenda’s recipes are rustic wholefood creations ranging from classics (such as Pissaladière) to favourites with an unusual twist (such as Carrot Cake with Fig Labneh Frosting). All ingredients are readily obtainable and procedures are well explained, making the recipes easily achievable for the home cook.

Without exception, the photographs are gorgeous, atmospheric and inviting. Text is mainly interviews, the producers and farmers telling their stories in their own words interspersed with pertinent, informative narrative about regions and produce.

Published to coincide with Eat Local Week (25 June – 3 July 2016), Eat Local is not only a quality book about local food. It’s a great read to mull over and absorb, bringing a reorientation to another way of life. Subtly, it asks us to reflect on our often disconnected complacent lives. Slow down, it says. Open your eyes, and look around you. Absorb the fragrance of the land, the feel of sunshine and rain on your face and soil sifting through your fingers. Connect with the dedicated farmers who labour long and hard to place their crop in your hands. Then continue their work in the kitchen, cooking real local food with love.

Better still, get in the car, book in hand, and take the short journey out to the farm gate to meet the producers of your daily food.

Recommendation: Our highest accolades! We’re developing a bucket list of local farms we haven’t yet seen.

Availability: Eat Local can be purchased online at www.eatlocalweek.com.au  where there is also a complete list of stockists. RRP $45.00

Photo Credits: Christine Sharp

Marj Osborne

Read more of Marj’s reviews on Good Food Gold Coast

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