Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Free range chicken

One of Tasmania's largest poultry producers, Nichols, has recently launched a new ethical free range chicken product line. The birds are housed in 'villages' of four movable sheds each housing 720 birds (a much lower density than the thousands housed in one shed under other poultry production systems) and they are free to come and go from the sheds as they please.

I had the opportunity to have a look inside last week on a field trip. While it is still a little shocking to see so many birds living such short lives, the conditions were clean and spacious, the feeding and watering stations looked great and many of the birds were enjoying themselves resting outside the sheds or pecking in the grass and mud. The large, green paddock we visited contained four of these chook 'villages'. Check out the video on their web site to see it for yourself.

While at present the ethical free range product represents less than 10 percent of the chicken they produce (the rest is barn raised under the RSPCA standard), it is hoped that customer demand will grow and production can expand. It's good reason for us Aussies to eat a bit less chicken and be happy to pay a bit more for it, I reckon. I'll be checking out our local supermarkets to see who stocks it.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Japanese wasabi, grown in Tasmania

On a field trip last week visiting businesses in Tasmania's north west, I saw wasabi growing for the first time and tasted the freshest possible, just picked, trimmed and grated by the founder of Shima Wasabi. Now part of The Tasmanian Food Co. group of companies, it's a fascinating business and the largest grower of Japanese wasabi in the southern hemisphere. They primarily supply fresh wasabi to high end restaurants around Australia. It is grown hydroponically in a large climate controlled greenhouse. The stems (not the roots, as widely believed) are harvested and shipped on demand direct to chefs, chilled to keep it fresh. There's little waste, as the leaves, stems and flowers can all be used as well. Currently, little of their product goes direct to consumers, although you can buy wasabi powder  to make a lovely paste from their web site. That may change, however, with new products and packaging methods currently under development.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The big spud

How have I been in Tasmania for more than seven years and NOT seen this before? It's the Big Spud at Sassafras. Yes, a large potato in a hat. His name is Kenny Kennebec (a type of potato). I've been to the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, the Big Merino and even the Giant Earthworm, but seriously, this is quality stuff Tasmania. The only problem is, as far as big things go, he's not very big.