A Christmas menu full of local delights
The Northern Rivers region has it all, and if you talk to many of its food producers and retailers, when families sit down for lunch on Christmas Day it will be a distinctly local affair.
Alex Basch, of Billen Cliffs, was at Rainbow Wholefoods in Lismore yesterday, picking up the last ingredients for his lunch for eight.
“I’m having a locally-grown Christmas lunch. I always try to eat locally-grown anyway. You know where it comes from and it doesn’t have to travel so far, so it’s more environmentally friendly,” he said.
Mr Basch plans a lunch of barbecued fish, served with vegetables mostly from his own garden.
“There is nothing better than fresh food – it tastes better and it’s better for you,” he said.
Rainbow Wholefoods owner Tony Stillone said he had noticed more of his customers this year saying they wanted a locally-grown Christmas.
“We have picked up a fair bit from last year,” he said. “We grow a lot of great food in this area and people want to eat it at Christmas.”
Mr Stillone said popular items included macadamias and, of course, lots of fresh vegetables.
Byron-based organic turkey farmer Matthew Jamieson has had a busy run-up to the festive season.
He has just sent off his final batch of 400 turkeys bound for Christmas dinner tables as far afield as Sydney.
He said his birds were in such demand that he had turned people away.
“We could have sold more turkeys this year, but we were taken by surprise by the level of demand,” he said.
Kevin Alexin, deputy chairman of Evans Head Fishermen’s Co-op, said that despite the dearth of large prawns, shoppers were snapping up the smaller – and some say tastier – ones.
“Prawns are always popular this time of year, and probably more so this year,” he said.
Byron Farmers Market manager Donald Recsei isn’t surprised by the interest in a locally-grown Christmas lunch.
“We have experienced a huge upsurge in the lead-up to Christmas,” he said. “With Christmas being such a special period, people go out of their way to prepare outstanding food, and locally-grown food is fresher, tastier and more environmentally positive.”
For those yet to finish their Christmas shopping, and who missed this morning’s farmers market at New Brighton, Mr Recsei said there was no need for despair.
Byron Bay will hold its first Christmas Eve farmers market from 8am to 11am.
“I have been inundated with calls from our customers asking for a Christmas market,” he said. “People want fresh produce that, earlier in the morning, was still growing,” he said.