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Tag Archives | Food and Drink

Host a waste-free party this festive season

Photo credit (clockwise from left): Migle; The Green Gables; Mack Male (all Flickr)

Photo credit (clockwise from left): Migle; the green gables; Mack Male (all Flickr)

The festive season is almost upon us and with the mad Christmas rush, it’s easy to let our waste-free principles fall by the wayside. Stephanie Lewis shows you how to be the host or hostess with the most, except when it comes to waste, with just a little planning.

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How to Choose Wisely when eating out

Choose Wisely when eating out

Choose Wisely when eating out

The RSPCA’s exciting new initiative Choose Wisely puts power back in the hand of the consumer, allowing you to look up cafes and restaurants putting humane food on the menu, with just a click. Melissa Hobbs and Jessica Gray from the RSPCA explain how it works.

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Easter chocolate report: watch out, palm oil about

palm oil and chocolate

Watch what you eat this Easter, ethical shoppers (and we don’t mean calorie counting). Jess Noble explains.

Chocolate brands Cadbury and Lindt monopolize the Easter chocolate market in OZ, but what the average supermarket consumer doesn’t know is that some of the most popular chocolate contains environmentally harmful untraceable palm oil, including some products from both these giants.

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Have a Christmas that’s merry for you and the world with Good Spender

good spender

Mark Daniels, Head of Market and Sector Development at social enterprise development organisation Social Traders, on their new social enterprise shop Good Spender!

Carols are playing in the supermarket, Christmas is coming, and the thought of presents is starting to loom large. This is a great opportunity to create social impact for individuals and communities by purchasing from a range of outstanding social enterprises on the Good Spender website.

Good Spender is an online marketplace where consumers who want to make a difference with their shopping can buy directly from social enterprises. Social enterprises are businesses that sell goods and services to benefit the community.

Every dollar you spend with a social enterprise goes directly to support the social purpose of that organization. This can range from creating employment for those with disabilities, the long term unemployed or indigenous Australians, through to protecting the environment and supporting nutrition and sanitation programs in developing countries.

This Christmas, Good Spender aims to be not just a platform for buying good and doing good, but also a convenient solution for ticking off your shopping list. Discover the broad range of products sold by social enterprises, and support their mission by buying from them, including:

Oz Fair Trade – beautifully home wares and jewelry handmade by local artisan from recycled bomb shells during the Vietnam War.


Summerland House Farm – farm fresh macadamia nuts, coffee, and gift hampers that create jobs for people with a disability.


Liminal Apparel  – fair trade and organic cotton bags and accessories that better the lives of local producers.


Niulife – a delicious and healthful range of extra-virgin coconut products that empowers third world producers.

Spend smart and do good these holidays. Visit for your Christmas shopping, and give gifts that make a difference. Also sign-up as a buyer to receive the newsletter, where you will be the first to know about new products and promotions such as free shipping!

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No more grainy tomatoes! Replace pitiful produce with seasonal superstars

 Eating seasonally is an easy way to be gentler on the planet, improve your health and shrink your grocery spend. So why don’t we all do it? Daile from The Confused but Conscious Consumer peers into the produce section.

eating seasonally

Picture this – you walk into a grocery store on a wintery July day. Maybe it’s your local farmers’ market; it could be a chain supermarket or even a fruit and veg shop. There are so many options – beautiful looking fruit and vegetables on display. The tomatoes are red and juicy, lettuce green and leafy. An apple so shiny you want to bite into it on the spot, just to hear the loud crunch and feel the sweetness burst in your mouth.

You may come shopping armed with a very specific list of items to purchase, based on the cookbooks you scoured prior to your shopping adventure; or perhaps the knowledge of ingredients for a family favourite. You grab a basket and fill it to the brim with zucchini for a frittata, asparagus for a weekend breakfast cook-up, sweet potato and pumpkin to make a nourishing soup, strawberries and mangoes to add to your post-exercise smoothies and some mint for Mojitos because no one is THAT perfect when they go shopping.

The asparagus has been imported from Mexico, the mint is out of season as it’s winter and the strawberries and mangoes are horribly expensive but still grown in Australia… although how far away and under what unnatural circumstances?

As consumers, we demand that the fruits and vegetables we want to eat be available for purchase at all times. Especially if we have seen it as a key ingredient on a TV cooking show the night before. We will pay top dollar for out of season fruit and vegetables, and not bat an eyelid at a bunch of greenery flown 14,000 kilometres to be sold en masse.

But how are we supposed to know what is in season? I’m no agricultural guru, and to be honest have a difficult enough time keeping a cactus alive let alone a vegetable garden. I have done a basic amount of research and know there are handy guides such as this one for Australians, this for the US and one for the UK. I have no doubt Google will point you in the right direction for whichever country you are in.

Seasonal eating information is out there, and sometimes common sense comes into play as well. Winter is the time for root vegetables, summer is perfect for stone fruit and spring is the sound of strawberry picking.

Eating seasonally is not that difficult but sometimes it means putting down your recipe book, turning off the TV cooking show inspiration and tossing out your old favourites. A great idea is ordering a farmers box every week and discovering new recipes based on the surprises found in the delivery. Think of it as a Masterchef Mystery Box in real life.

eating seasonally

Tips for eating seasonally

– Shop at farmers markets. Talk to the vendors selling the produce, find out where the delicious food you are about to buy is grown and ask for their recommendations.

– Buy your fruit and veggies first. After you have stocked up on enough fruit and veg for the week, pull out your cookbooks or do a recipe search with your main ingredients. This will guide you with a list of non-perishables to buy to complete your meal plan.

– If it seems expensive, don’t buy it. There is a reason avocados are $4.00 in autumn. Not buying overpriced produce is a great way to eat seasonally as well as reduce your weekly spend.

– Experiment with food. So what if the recipe calls for potato and you bought turnip instead? You may discover new favourite flavours and surprise yourself. Breaking the rules is fun.

– Follow interesting food blogs to keep inspired all year round. I have listed some of my personal go-to blogs – Inspirational food blogs for cooking seasonally.

So, how often do you actually consider where your food comes from and how it came to be glistening at your produce market? Do you have any great food blogs you want to share? What about tips on how you eat seasonally at home?

Photo credit
KBR, tomato salad (CC)
Elizabeth Thompson, Vegetables on display (CC)
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Parties that are fun for you and the planet

sustainable party

Spring is here! You know what that means? It’s party time! Sustainable party time!

Between September and New Year it seems like every weekend is taken up by a rolling series of barbecues, weddings, kids’ birthdays, dinner parties… not to mention Halloween, which has gone from curious American import to an excellent excuse for Bloody Marys and pumpkin scones.

If you’re anything like us, the temptation to organise events you’re throwing at the last minute inevitably leads to hurried shopping trips the morning-of, snatching up handfuls of supermarket brand napkins and 3-for-2 dip medleys. At this point party sustainability usually goes out the window, and you find yourself wondering how much the neighbours would hate you if you stuffed a few bags of plastic cutlery and crusty salad into their rubbish bin.

That’s why we put together this inspiration-board-cum-shopping-list! It’s packed with eco-friendly and Fairtrade party purchases, plus a few DIY options and other assorted goodies. To go with it, here is our definitive eco party planning guide. We’ve thought of it all – from waste management, to decorations, to invitations and party bags for the little ones. Make your next shindig the best and most sustainable one yet!

fruit plate


The most important part of any gathering, some might say! You know the drill: make sure you’ve got a guest list and budget sorted before anything else, and a rough idea of what type of party it will be. It’s important to know these things beforehand so that you don’t end up over- or under-purchasing your supplies – nobody likes hungry guests, or dealing with mountains of surplus leftovers. Check out this quantity guide if you’re unsure of how much food and drink to supply per guest – scale down if you’re feeding smaller mouths!

  • Try seasonal food options, and plan your menu, whether it’s a buffet, a sit-down meal, or a table of hors d’oeuvres, around a few fresh, easily available ingredients. Check the Seasonal Food Guide for what will be around when you’re hosting.
  • Entertaining is a great opportunity to buy lots of locally produced fruit, veggies, meat and dairy! Flavour Crusader has a great list of directories where you can pick up fresh, delicious food close to home.
  • Buying dip is the ultimate fool’s game. Dip can be made ahead of time, and doing it yourself is a sure fire way to impress your guests with quality that’s miles better than bought. Here are a few of our favourites:

o   Ethereally smooth hummus

o   Melitzanosalata, or Greek smoky eggplant dip

o   Broad bean, mint and feta dip

o   Beetroot dip

o   Capsicum, cashew and sundried tomato dip

  • If you’re having a barbecue (and why wouldn’t you be), SBS food has a huge recipe collection of BBQ delights from around the world.
  • Try to minimise the amount of meat dishes, even if the ones you make are locally sourced. Smitten Kitchen’s party food collection contains heaps of recipes perfect to feed a crowd, and most of them are vegetarian/vegan.


Avoiding disposables

  • Op shops, op shops, op shops. Why use disposable plates, cups and cutlery when you can buy a dedicated set of charmingly mismatched crockery to use for parties? Yes, this option does involve a bit more washing up, but trust us – it’s not that bad! See Otter’s Op Shopping Tips for more.
  • Go for cloth napkins over paper. Vintage napkins are often beautiful, and if you’re feeling crafty you can make some yourself out of old clothes or sheets. Same goes for tablecloths and place mats!
  • Try reusable straws, or be a straw-free event. Plastic straws are hugely wasteful, and we don’t think your guests will miss them that much.

Entertainment and decorations

  • Remember DJs? No, we don’t either. These days, music is as simple as hooking your player of choice up to a set of speakers. If you don’t have your own speakers, ask a guest to bring some. We like streaming music service Spotify, which has a huge selection of premade playlists for every mood and occasion. If you’re not a fan, it’s very easy to make your own.
  • Try this easy, no-sew DIY bunting for a touch of twee charm. You can make it in any fabric and it can be used over and over again.
  • Solar fairy lights are good option for nighttime gatherings.
  • Avoid releasing helium balloons, which can cause environmental damage when they come back down again. If you can bear it, consider giving balloons a miss altogether and using something else instead! Try these handmade paper decorations, which can be constructed using wastepaper or recycled materials and decorated however you like.
  • Consider asking guests to bring some flowers from their garden! Much more eco-friendly than alternatives, and probably less tacky too.
  • There’s nothing we can say about eco-friendly lolly bags that hasn’t already been covered in this great blog post, which recommends paper bags and careful treat selection.

If you have any other eco party tips, leave them in the comments below!

Photo Credit
Cuttlefish, bunting (CC)
Kaitlyn Rose, fruit platter (CC)
Hannah Ball, 125/366 (CC)
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Sustainable party shopping guide

sustainable party

sustainable party

1. Festive coloured string of birds, Oxfam Shop, $7.95

2. The Holiday Finger Food Combination Generator, New York Times

3. Red and white Capiz tealight holder, Oxfam Shop, $18.95

4. Large beer bottle carafe and matching glasses, Pete’s Glasses, $42

5. Heart shaped Acacia wood bowl, Oxfam Shop, $18.95

6. Keg hire, Hire A Keg, from $235

7. Vintage napkin set, Etsy, $21.99

8. Solar LED fairy lights, Bunnings, $9.90

9. Terrace striped tablecloth, Oxfam shop, $42.95

10. Vintage Soviet cutlery set, Etsy, $39.59

11. Mango, melon and lime soda recipe, Honest Cooking

12. Fabric-covered crate seat DIY instructions, Wait Til Your Father Gets Home

13. 20 pack soy tea light candles, Moonlight Candles Australia, $17.95


For more party-oriented tips, check out our tips for creating a sustainable table setting, and some helpful resources for Christmas lunch that apply equally well to all the fabulous gatherings you’ll no doubt throw over the Spring and Summer.

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Are backyard chickens right for you?


By Grace Boglev

If you have a yard and don’t mind a little extra pet care, it’s worth looking into keeping some backyard chickens. Hens are relatively simple and cheap care for, plus they have a range of lifestyle and environmental benefits.

Before you decide to keep chickens, keep in mind that they require consistent attention. Some animal shelters have seen a huge rise in numbers of abandoned chickens from would-be backyard farmers motivated by novelty rather than considered planning. Like all pets, they’re an investment, so make sure you have the time and inclination to give them the lives they deserve.



Eggs are fantastic. A great source of complete protein plus many essential vitamins and minerals, they’re incredibly versatile and an under-appreciated star of the average fridge. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to navigate the ethical concerns that come with the humble egg. As consumers, we can make the choice not to support factory farming, but even navigating the labelling on eggs to avoid cage eggs can be complicated.
One way to know for sure that your eggs come from a safe, caring environment is to raise the hens yourself – it’s not as hard as you might think, and can be very rewarding. Most chooks can be expected to produce around 4 eggs per week, which can really add up if you’ve got a small flock!

Food Waste, Compost and Fertiliser

Chickens will gladly gobble up scraps from your kitchen – vegetable peelings, old bread and leftovers are all fine feed for a chook. Plus, your chook can take this food waste and quickly turn it into fertiliser for your garden – a double win for you.

Pest Control

Chickens will go out of their way to snarf up slugs, snails and other pests in your garden. As long as you keep an eye on them so they don’t damage your plants, they’re a totally natural and highly effective insecticide.

Before You Start


Be sure to contact your local council about keeping chickens – different councils have different regulations concerning how many chickens you’re allowed to keep and the type of housing you must provide them. It’s also possible that you won’t be able to keep a rooster – while chickens are relatively quiet, roosters aren’t!

You can get chickens from a number of sources. The best place for you depends on why you want to keep chickens.

Local Farmers

Buying your chickens from local farmers means that you can meet the people who raised your birds, as well as supporting a local business. This will also allow you to choose which type of hens you want – pets, egg layers, for meat or for eggs and meat. Consider looking for stalls selling eggs and hens at your local farmers’ markets. Otherwise, Humane Choice has put together a list of certified farms (though not all farms listed will sell hens, it’s a good way to find local farmers).

Rescue chickens

If you want to re-home a chicken that has been rescued from a factory farm, there are a number of organisations that can assist you. Animals Australia have listed some adoption organisations in New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania that they approve of. NSW Hen Rescue also have some useful information on how to care for rescue chickens and if they are suitable for you. Most rescue hens are unreliable layers, so if eggs are what you’re after, consider buying a small flock and adding a rescue chicken or two as well.

What You’ll Need

First, you’ll want a reasonably sized yard. Some councils will have regulations about the distance the coop and run must be from the fence.
The coop itself should be secure and warm, protected from the elements and including a nesting box and perch. You’ll also need an enclosed mesh run to protect your chooks from predators. Various state animal welfare legislation says that they must be provided with appropriate food, water and protection, so make sure your coop is of a standard that meets local requirements and your birds have everything they need to flourish and be happy.
Many suppliers of hens will also provide you with a coop, but you can also build one yourself. This set of instructions from Readers Digest Australia tells you how to build a small A-frame chicken coop cheaply, but there are many other sets of instructions available online depending on the size and style of coop you want to build.

Want To Know More?

There’s lots of information available online for raising chickens:

are all great resources to start with. Happy farming!

Photo credit
Chicken trio, kimll (CC)
Boiled egg over cheese bread toast, Ames Lai (CC)
laying eggs, dolanh (CC)
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