Students from Lismore Heights Public school in their bush tucker garden.
Students from Lismore Heights Public school in their bush tucker garden. The Northern Star

A simple way to eat better

MICK Roberts understands the importance of eating good, simple food, and wants youngsters to develop a taste for nutritious wild tucker.

As a youngster growing up on the Cabowee Aboriginal Reserve near Tuncester, Mick and his mates regularly went walkabout on a Saturday, grabbing handfuls of sharp-tasting lilly pillies or cats-eyes – whatever was in season.

They might head to the river and strike a mullet with a sharp piece of tin and then dive for the stunned fish, bringing it home for tea.

When his family went to Evans Head on holidays they would wander the bush behind the dunes, foraging for wild parsnip as they went.

“They tasted awful but they kept us going,” he recalled.

“It was sustenance.”

When Deanne Turner helped organise a bush tucker garden and children's recipe book for students at Lismore Heights Public school, she turned to 'Uncle Mick' and his partner, Thelma James, for advice.

“The idea of a bush tucker garden is a simple one, yet so many people struggle to eat in a healthy way,” Ms Turner said.

“When we break for a fruit snack here at school many children still unwrap chips and chocolate.”

Ms Turner said the recipe book, containing favourites from Cathy Freeman to Ian Thorpe, musicians and artists to footy players, would help educate families to eat healthy meals in simple and easy ways.

But the bush tucker garden takes that concept even further, providing free and easy native fruits which are rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants.

'Uncle Mick' planted native rainforest finger limes, for instance, that provide a powerful flavour-burst, and are every bit as fun to eat as Brain Juice or Sourballs, or any of the many highly processed snacks on the market today.

And they're much better for growing children.

The garden is also home to lilly pillies, Davidson's plum, bush cherry and bush grapes.

“My granddaughter is a fussy eater,” he said.

“But when lilly pillies are in season she can't get enough of them. So I think the kids will take to these native fruits.”



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