Bush Tucker is on the menu at Castlemaine Health all this week in celebration of NAIDOC Week (8-15 November). NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Castlemaine Health’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Melinda Harper, and Roland Farve, Chef at Castlemaine Health’s Quick Fix Café, have developed a Bush Tucker menu featuring a host of native Australian ingredients.
Melinda Harper said: “Castlemaine Health always acknowledges NAIDOC Week but this year we wanted to try something different. Bush tucker ingredients have been used by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years. We wanted to bring some of those ingredients and flavours here for our staff and visitors to try.”
The NAIDOC Week Quick Fix Café menu features foods such as lemon myrtle and bush salt masala potatoes, river mint and native spinach vegetables, and bunya nut loaf. Sweet tooths can sample the Illawarra plum and lemon myrtle trifle and wattleseed and almond cake.
Melinda said: “Bushfoods are very nutritious, for example. Wattleseed is extremely high in fibre and protein, while indigenous foods tend to be lower in sugar. It also makes good environmental sense to eat good that’s grown locally and naturally in Australia.”
As well as Castlemaine Health’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Melinda is also one of the co-founders of Murnong Mammas, a local catering group established in 2014 that specialises in food prepared with indigenous ingredients.
Bush Tucker has been sustaining First Nation Australians for over 70,000 years. The food’s popularity is growing as people look for opportunities to taste ingredients like finger limes, lemon myrtle, Kakadu plum, mountain pepper and bush tomatoes. Bush tucker was also the focus of a high-profile local boost this week as the Minister for Agriculture announced a grant to establish a bush tucker farm in Harcourt.
The NAIDOC Week theme for 2020 is Always Was, Always Will Be. The theme has been developed to shine a focus on the length of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander occupation of Australia. It recognises that First Nations people have occupied and cared for this continent for over 65,000 years.
Melinda has also interviewed Aunty Kerri Douglas, an Aboriginal woman, Elder, and a Traditional Owner identifying as Dja Dja Wurrung and Bangerang descent. Kerri talks about her experience of growing up, her work in education and what this year’s theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ means to her.