Growing Appetite for Nutrient-Rich Native Indigenous Australian Foods


01 Credit Credit: Neena Bhandari/IPS

by Neena Bhandari (
  • sydney)Tuesday, October 03, 2023
  • SYDNEY, Oct 03 (IPS) – Growing up in Sydney, Kalkani Choolburra, a Girramay, Kuku Yalanji, Kalkadoon and Pitta Pitta woman from Far North Queensland, would frequently travel with her family up and down Australia’s eastern seaboard. It Its meat has been a vital source of protein for these communities, who have sustained themselves on the native flora and fauna for thousands of years.

These quintessentially native Indigenous ingredients are also being used in condiments, relishes, sauces, and marmalades and infused into chocolates, teas and beverages for their unique flavours and textures.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest and recognition of the nutritive and medicinal properties of native Indigenous plants and fruits. Professor She The For example, the vitamin C content in Kakadu plum is about 75 times more than in an orange; folates (a natural form of vitamin B9 or folic acid) and fibre in green plum is much higher than in a mango; and kangaroo meat has only 2 per cent fat and a high concentration of conjugated linoleic acid and omega 3.”

In a study co-authored with Dharini Sivakumar, Sultanbawa argues that including native Indigenous foods in the diet could help reduce malnutrition.

“Legumes like wattle seed are low in carbohydrates and have a very high content of protein, fibre, zinc and iron comparable to chickpeas. Watt The Credit: Neena Bhandari/IPS

Besides being used in traditional and modern cuisine, many of these native Indigenous botanicals are being used in cosmetics, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. The It is used today in a variety of anti-ageing skincare products.

The COVID-19 pandemic craze for


and television cooking shows, such as Australian MasterChef, has also contributed to the increasing popularity of native Indigenous foods.

Recently, The Coles Nurture Fund awarded Indigenous-owned family business Walaja Raw Bush Honey a grant of A$330,000 (about USD 208,470) to create a new, medicinal grade, premium Melaleuca honey that is sustainably made in the West Kimberley region on Yawuru Country (Country is a term used by Indigenous Australians to describe the lands, waterways and seas to which they are connected through ancestral ties and family origins).

Although the demand is growing, supply is limited because much of the native Indigenous produce is currently wild-harvested.“Native foods have never been cultivated to be mass produced. The It’s best left like that,” says Choolburra, who is the Aboriginal Programs Coordinator at the Botanic Gardens of Sydney.As Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Joe Morrison says, “Bush foods (

food native to Australia and historically eaten by Indigenous Australians)

are a fundamental part of Indigenous identity and our traditions that span thousands of years of connection to Country.”

But climate change presents a growing challenge with extreme weather conditions, including frequent storms, soil erosion, salinity in fresh water and ocean acidification threatening the ecosystems supporting native flora and fauna.

Choolburra says, “We (Indigenous Australians) are adapting our sustainability practices to meet the challenges of climate change, which is impacting everything in various ways. Many In many cases, the production or harvesting of native foods is left to local communities in order to sustain the amount of quality produce.”

She occasionally leads the Aboriginal Bush Tucker Tour, which provides visitors from across the world an opportunity to learn about the traditional knowledge and cultural significance of native Indigenous flora and its many innovative uses.On a cool, wet Sydney day, as we walk along the rich foliage in the Botanic Gardens, she plucks the long, flat green leaf from the native Lomandra plant, a vital source of food and survival and referred to as the ‘corner shop’ in some Indigenous Australians’ cultures and shows us how it can be woven to make baskets.Pointing at the Dianella bush, she relates the old practice when children were told to hide in it – if they got lost. Diane The This This will foster cultural knowledge about our Indigenous heritage and biodiversity,” Sultanbawa tells IPS.

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Growing Appetite for Nutrient-Rich Native Indigenous Australian FoodsTuesday, October 03, 2023