Adelaide's journal for a smarter, better, fairer world

Monthly Archives: February 2014


Crow-eaters – what an incredible array of local seafood you have in this state !

From my newish-to-Adelaide perspective – it seems like this fabulous produce is  a little under underappreciated. We need to ditch the feathers in exchange for fins.

After all, you have Storm Boy at the Coorong, Tunarama at Port Lincoln and the most wildly-named Coffin Bay oysters all at your disposal. Deep, cold, unpolluted waters bring in world-class tuna, sardines and crustaceans. I think in recent years Australia’s National Dish has been announced as salt-n-pepper squid, which arguably South Australia owns. Now I’m not suggesting you take up corny tourism titles like “Australian’s Seafood Capital City” but it’s a world-class resource to both steward and appreciate.

Historically, the earliest human settlements in coastal areas were invariably based on clusters of rich sea life. Seafood is a major source of protein in the world – providing around 15% of human population requirements. There are so many healthy reasons to eat more seafood and I won’t go into detail here – but some include;

* Fish contains high levels of cholesterol-lowering Omega-3’s – so a high fish consumption diet provides healthy heart outcomes

* Oily fish consumption has been linked to healthy brain functions and lower dementia rates and may alleviate ADHD symptoms

* Seafood contains high levels of anti-oxidant minerals like zinc and selenium & Vitamin A

The big HOWEVER is – our fisheries are under great threat. 

The Sustainable Seafood (Australia) organization states 80% of the world’s fish stocks are either overexploited or exhausted. Poor management, overfishing, by-catch (where other species like dolphins, birds, turtles and coral are caught up in fishing gear and then discarded) have profoundly depleted this important food source. Several models point to complete depletion of wild stocks in only a few decades time.

Fortunately for us here at least, sustainable seafood can be easily sourced and we are one of very few fishery areas that are able to be classified as sustainable globally. Another positive is that consumer demand for sustainable seafood is growing rapidly.

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide helps you take the first steps on the journey of discovering sustainable seafood. So wish I had’ve come up with this title for the blog  – Good Fish Bad Fish (or some other Suess-like phrase). Anyway, look them up – they write an excellent column on sustainable seafood.

In summary this is what to look for. In Part 2 I’ll talk about specifics for you to look out for…….

Eat lower, faster, smaller

This means eat smaller fish. They are usually faster breeding and thus able to bounce back more easily from over-fishing pressures. Garfish, sardines, whiting, prawns – rather than lobsters, snapper and tuna.

And the corollary – don’t eat larger fish with long lives

You wouldn’t eat a great-grandmother cow if you knew she was one, would you? Save the big old flathead, the large shark (“flake”) and the ancient sting rays (otherwise known as “skate”) – keep the aged and wise in the sea. Remember who was the wise teacher from Finding Nemo? Mr. Ray.

Ask where, who, how, etc

Many fish are fraudulently intentionally mis-named. I could write for days about this issue. With 1/3 of our spend going on purchasing fish species that are incorrectly and/or deliberately mis-identified, that’s an almost $1 billion annual fraud – we are losing out on knowing what we are eating, and thus seafood stocks can’t be correctly managed.

When shopping, ask about origin, fishing technique or aquaculture method.

Ask suppliers to identify species by its Standardised Fish Name.

Be Informed

Stop by the seafood counter more often. You can help save fish obviously by not eating fish at all, but you can make a big difference by actively engaging in educating yourself and others.

How often do you eat seafood? What kind? Would love your feedback.



There’s a saying you can only ever have 2 out of 3 when you are looking for a contractor; you can have good, cheap, or quick, but never all three.

At Nature’s Providore – while the criteria is totally different, I think you get 4 out of 3 every time. I contest it’s what you should be looking for every time you make any purchase, every time you cast a vote with your wallet….…….

As a sustainability practitioner, I have a problem with the above saying. While good is not negotiable, for me there is no such thing as cheap. What cheap means is that somewhere someone or something is being screwed by my choice – whether that’s exploited garment workers in Bangladesh not making the margins they deserve to provide for their family – or (more likely) something is being destroyed in our natural environment, too far away in distance and time for us to care.

And since this is a write-up about my favourite-ever cafe, quick isn’t relevant either – I know the people at the former Doof Doof cafe are genuine, hard working and always have customers best interests in mind. I am not looking for the same turnaround time as a drive-through. In today’s harried world, a wee minute’s delay in my order is a rare gift. A complaint about a wait (to me) equals an over-active entitlement gland………..

At Nature’s Providore it’s all about the GOOD. My health, my happiness. 

Firstly the physical things. It’s in a local neighbourhood and by the looks has been a storefront since the lot was built on (which in Adelaide means many, many decades ago). The 70+ year old (?) barely renovated rooms are simple, calming. All that is necessary, only that which is useful. There is a sense, a feeling of integrity as the well-worn door handles and bench seats attest – it’s a place people meet and spend decent amounts of time together in relative quiet, compared to many other cafes in this city. That in itself while not terribly rare, sets the stage for more.

The food and the juices are offered…….Not simply cooked or prepared. Glowing poached egg yolks are an almost weekly highlight of ours. I am thrilled to say my kids have come to love avocado & roast pumpkin seeds as a result of frequenting here (I could have never achieved that at home). Embarrassingly, I have whiled away many an hour there (writing job applications) and the nutty bliss balls and accompanying smiling characters have kept me upbeat! So statistically, if ever someone could have a bad experience it ought to be the regulars, but I’ve never heard a complaint from any of them.

The range of organic produce always comes with a back story about a farmer close by, a character who I’m more than happy to support. This week the 3 kinds of potatoes, the fiesta of capsicums, the striped eggplant and newly plucked  blackberries (yesterday) were brimming with goodness. I fill most of my weekly staples here – biodynamic milk with blobs of cream on top, local sourdough, Kangaroo Island eggs, Simon Bryant pulses. I have been healed by the Byron Bay superkraut. I don’t profess to know all of the brands and suppliers, but they have been researched, approved and  guaranteed as the healthiest, most sustainable options by the ever-knowledgable Kate.

I only know them by first name, but the proprietors are incredibly welcoming, should that be something you care for. And why wouldn’t you ? That’s a sustainable table. One where everyone is welcome and everyone is equally contributing along the supply chain.

Nature’s Providore is all about putting yourself, your health and your eating pleasure first, but at the same time granting equal privilege and status to those who got the food to your plate. A place to be is one one thing, a lovely community within a bonus and seriously healthy offerings to consume begets even more joy.

But the fourth piece, the crux for me? The patronage of what is worthy and the delivery of a desire for everyone to experience optimal health and optimal happiness. That includes the people at the start of the chain, the farmer, producer, baker, blender. It comes very naturally to this cafe. It underpins everything that they do.

So grateful to these providers of natural goodness.

So it’s difficult, complex, confusing and there is no correct answer.

Welcome to sustainability land.

You are overwhelmed? Yep. You are disillusioned? Sometimes. You want to chuck it all in? NOPE. Not an option.

When I get like this I consider NOT how to find the “right answer”. Basically cos’ there isn’t one (that alone takes some getting used to as a concept in our rationally-minded modern world).

So instead I choose aspects of a product/criteria I am NOT willing to accept. Holding goods and services up to MY standards, rather than wading through thinking “oh, I don’t know, what is the right choice”?

Here’s an example from my bathroom. See Amarjit Sahota’s book about how the cosmetics industry is greening up and improving their product integrity.


I haven’t the sweet foggiest what a sustainable shampoo really is. And I’m not really ready for egg-only shampoo – despite Deb Stewarts valiant efforts (on her “Sustainable Living Wise” blog).

But am thrilled not to have unnecessary synthetic fragrances & as yet-to-be-proven-safe paraben preservatives running down my torso a few times a week for the next few decades. (Btw parabens may be associated with breast cancer). And am pretty happy to use products with less foam, less water, recycled plastic bottles, etc too.

And the same goes for food. When I see a reverse-products list, that is, what’s NOT included, that’s 99% likely to be a more sustainable choice.

Look at this lovely chocolate.


They are called treats after all – so don’t treat yourself with fillers, palm oil, and conventionally grown cocoa which is one of the highest pesticide-using crops out there. Look for what is left out. Consider the “what is left out” approach as a criteria for things that are special, your best treats ! Or the things you routinely consume or live with.

Same for your rare shop-bought drink, a big green no-no typically (in our house water in a carry bottle is the norm) but this is a-just-this-once and there was not a public tap to drink water from in sight…….

Image 1

It’s produced locally – in over 30 small-scale Australian locations – so fewer greenhouse gases used for transportation. I won’t do glass shipped miles and miles over the oceans & trundled over our roads in B-doubles. So the 10c refund logo always is a little extra benefit – kudos to South Australia for its healthy container return scheme that has operated continually since 1977.

So, apply these rules to everything – to your food, your clothes, your furniture. What don’t you want?

It’s pretty simple really. Just Don’t Do it.

That’s sustainability. No destination, just a journey……..