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The Fair Food Almanac
January/February 2013


 Welcome Back

Welcome back to Fair Food - we've had a great break, hope you did too.  Thanks to the 330 people who filled in the customer surveys over the holidays.   Each year we survey Fair Food customers past and present and use your responses and requests to form the basis of this year's to-do list.  From our survey a year ago people overwhelmingly wanted more choice in products, home delivery and individually packed and named groceries. It took some doing but we ticked all these jobs off the list last year.

This year your wanting more up-to-date info about what's coming in your next box, and an easier-to-use webstore.  The good news is, we've tick off a couple of these "to-do's" (see below), and we're getting started on the other suggestions you generously shared with us.  We're looking forward to sharing the survey results with you in the next Fair Food newsletter.

And if you missed out on the survey, don't wait till next year, let us know if there's something about Fair Food you love, wished was different, or would like to see introduced. Post a message on our Facebook Page, or just email us at

Goodbye To An Old Friend

Geoff Cook worked for the CERES Site Team for the last 17 years. Everybody knew Geoff,. He was part of the landscape. Geoff was a big man with a big heart, and an ever-present straw hat. Geoff loved music, a beer and he loved CERES. HE was outspoken and passionate about what happened at CERES, and knew the place inside out.

His help was available to anyone who needed it. And that was Geoff; working at CERES wasn't about money, it was about doing good, contributing to his community, being useful.

Even when financial hardship saw several positions in the site team made redundant, including Geoff's, he was back in his old straw hat the following week doing what he always did - keeping the site running, putting the wheelie bins out for collection, helping visitors and being that big presence he's been for 17 years. Just before Christmas, while Geoff was walking a friend's dog, he had a heart attack and died. He was 62 years old and, as always, he was doing good.

Chris Ennis

CERES Fair Food Manager

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What's In The Box This Month?

New seasons apples, pears, plums, corn, cucumbers and potatoes are finally starting to arrive in bigger numbers.  We're hoping to see more tomatoes around soon.   Make the most of nectarines and peaches while they're still about, and of course it's been a great blueberry season.

This is weird farming weather; blisteringly hot, then blustery and cold - the poor fruits & vegetables don't know if they're artichokes or melons. So watch out for sudden shortages of herbs, salad greens, baby spinach, roquette, broccoli and snow peas.  We should have plenty of head lettuce (iceberg) however. Torrential rains from Cyclone Evan in banana growing country have caused short supplies, not because there aren't any nannies, they just can't get them off the flooded farms. It hasn't been the banana wipe out we experienced a few years back, so no need to stockpile just yet.

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Sustainable Living Festival: Is Organic Really Better?

SLF is on again, and there are heaps of talks, films, exhibitions, workshops, performances, markets... and breathe!

One of our newest Food Hosts, Angela Crocombe (Balaclava), is the author of two books on sustainable living: Ethical Eating (2008) and A Lighter Footprint (2011). Both books aim to empower each of us with simple, practical, day-to-day actions towards living more sustainably. She is speaking at a free SLF event on the topic of whether organic food is truly better for our health and planet, and if so, how much impact does eating chemical-free food really have?

Other panelists include: Rod Barbey (Chef), Liz Clay (Farmer), Liza Oates (Health Practitioner), and Jane Burns (Educator).

Is Organic Really Better
Sunday, 17 February 2013
Time: 4pm - 5pm
Under the Gum, Birrarung Marr
Event is free

You can get the full program here. The festival runs from February 9-24 at locations and venues all over Melbourne. Check out!

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Meanwhile at the Fair Food Warehouse

Somaya returns to South Sudan to visit friends & family

One of our much loved packers, Somaya Elramis has returned to South Sudan for the holidays.  It's the first time Somaya has returned to her home country since she was forced to flee the civil war 8 years ago. And it'll also be the first time she has seen her extended family, including her mother and her brother in that time. Somaya, who has been with Fair Food since we started as a pilot project, is a really grounding influence on our busy packing line. When Somaya's around, things are okay. We're looking forward to her return in late February!

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News From Our Farmers

Leila and Carla Come Bearing Fruit

Last week a couple of new farmers rolled into the Fair Food warehouse with a ute-load of delicious summer red, gravenstein apples and nashi pears for our boxes.  Leila and Carla Alexandra, 2nd generation fruit growers, have come home from university in Canberra to the Strezleckie Ranges to run the fruit harvest at the family's Hazeldean Forest Farm.  Home to 40 varieties of apples, the orchard was planted in the 80's & 90's by Leila & Carla's parents, Marg & Jason Alexandra.  As well as apples & nashis, Hazeldene features collections of chestnuts, walnuts, persimmons, peaches and santa rosa plums. It seems so long ago that we had good apples, so we're really looking forward to some new season varieties like akane, abas, gravenstein and summer reds.

A Good Season at Last for Kamavissis' Grapes and Melons

At harvest time for the last two years Peter (pictured) and Helen Kamavissis' grape and melon farm near Mildura has been underwater, caught in the tail end of cyclonic rains, the flood induced brown rots reduced their crops by about 80%.  This year all that is a memory, and Peter & Helen have been sending down some beautiful menindee and sultana grapes as well as some spectacular seedless watermelon, which you would have seen in many of your boxes.  We couldn't be happier to see the Kamavissis' enjoying a good season!

Liz's Amazing Berries

We've been loving Liz Burns' big packs of blue, black and boysenberries. This summer her half-kilo and 125g blueberry punnets have just been flying out the door! With berry pickers hard to find, Liz has been picking and packing day & night, often delivering to the Fair Food Warehouse in the dead of night. Here's a lovely email she sent us after the Xmas newsletter, which really put a smile on our berry stained lips:

Dear Fair Food People,
Thank you for such an informative & inspiring newsletter.  As a grower,  I'm heartened by the growing movement of ethical consumers, as it's the consumer who really controls agriculture. It is my loyal & appreciative customers that inspire me to keep going & produce the best quality, sustainable food that I can. Between us, we can put the multinationals out of business, and out of control of our health and lives.
Regards, Liz
Trewhella Farm

Fair Food is always on the look out for new organic farmers to supply to us - email

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Goodbye To Two Really Annoying Features In Our Webstore

In the Xmas survey you overwhelming asked for two changes to our webstore:

1. stop the page scrolling back to the top after you've bought an item
2. organise all the shopping categories alphabetically so that like is with like 

Your wishes are our command - both of the "scrolling to the top" and the alphabetisation (is that a word?) issues have been fixed by Rohan our programmer.  We're in the process of redoing the Fair Food website, so if you have any other suggestions about how to make our webstore better, let us know at

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Welcome New Food Hosts

A big welcome to our newest Fair Food Hosts Joanne and Angela!

Joanne at Peckville St, Clifton Hill - open Tuesdays 5-8pm
Angela at Hawsleigh Ave, Balaclava - open Tuesdays 5-8pm

If you know someone who lives in these areas and would love to get involved, feel free to share this newsletter!

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What's New In Our Webstore

The Intolerant Box

No, it's not a xenophobic selection of fruit & veg prone to mood swings and angry outbursts. It's Fair Food's response to requests for a box suited to people with various food intolerances such as fructose mal-absorbtion and those on special diets.  The Intolerant Box will feature lots of leafy greens, but no onion family, no potatoes and no apples.  We've tried to cater for a wide variety of needs but of course, with the multitude of allergies, intolerances and diets, we can't do everything with the one box or there'd be nothing there! But remember, you can always build your own box, using the extra fruit n veg section of our webstore.

Loving Earth
What is it about Loving Earth Coconut Mylk Chocolate? We've been getting all kinds of requests for it lately. So when a box arrived at the Fair Food Warehouse we ripped into a bar. The response was "wow, that's a gloriously potent choc-coco hit! You only need a square or two to feel like you've transcend space & time." You can get your fix from our webstore, as well as Loving Earth cacao nibs for eating and cooking, and maca powder. Great in smoothies, it's purported to increase stamina, energy levels and (cough) sexual function. With this lot in your basket - look out world!!
! If you'd like to know a bit more about how Loving Earth make their coconut mylk chocolate - click here.

Gluten Free Pasta

L'Abruzzese pasta is made with top quality, all Australian organic ingredients, free of chemicals and any genetic engineering.

Established in 1980, L'Abruzzese continues to create fine quality home-style egg noodles, gourmet and organic pasta using traditional methods, with only the freshest of local organic ingredients. The result is pasta with a unique, home-style look that tastes amazing! Spelt Linguine, and gluten free (lentil & rice) options available in both penne and spirals.

Stevia: a herbal alternative to artificial sweeteners
Nirvana Organics Stevia is grown and extracted organically without the use of chemicals. This high-quality Stevia extract does not have the slightly bitter after-taste sometimes reported, as it's a herbal extract made purely from Stevia leaves. Powdered Stevia extracts are extremely sweet, many times sweeter than sugar. It can be somewhat difficult to measure out the correct amount in the beginning, and you may end up using too much. So our advice is to go slow. Test it out in a cup of tea first and gauge the sweetness to your liking. That way, you'll never cause a sweet tooth OD. This zero-calorie, herbal extract is leading the natural sweetener revolution! We stock both Stevia Liquid Extract and Stevia Pure Extract Powder.

1KG Organic Fair Trade Coffee
We're not going to write an annoying jingle about it, but we've permanently cut the price of our bulk-buy, 1kg organic, fair trade coffee from $44.45 to just $39.95 (save $4.50). At this price, it's really worth buying in bulk. Not a massive coffee drinker? Worried about freshness? A great way to keep coffee nice and fragrant is to store it in an airtight contained in your freezer. Never face being short on your favourite morning kickstart again!

Made in Australia from beans grown and fairly traded in Laos, for each pack of Rhino Coffee sold, 40c goes to help clear cluster bombs, victims assistance and anti-bomb advocacy. Read more about Rhino Coffee's mission to help Laos. Save some money, save on packaging and save some lives.

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Local Food Funnies

Multi-tasking Dates

Want to meet a like-minded food-growing type, but too busy planning crop rotations and mixing compost tea? Then weed dating is for you!

Caution! Zombie veggies on board?

We've been caught behind this truck a few times on the way back from market. Starting to wonder if we should be worried because, let's face it, it is a sign.

Eat Local, Eat Locals

Give zombies a piece of your mind. LonelyDinosaur T-shirts are made with 100% organic cotton by two dudes, who just started selling them out of a biodiesel RV, circa 2004. The lonelysaurus thing is a small affair; they care about the environment, but their shirts don't cost an arm and a leg.

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We Want Your Plastic Bottles For Our Ice Packs!

Do you have used water or soft drink bottles? Don't throw them in the recycling, give them to us! Just leave them somewhere neat and tidy at your Food Host (in a box perhaps), and we'll pick them up during our usual deliveries.

Save Your Box (and Esky) & Save the Earth

Send us back your used boxes and eskies. We love to reuse them if they're still in good shape, and if they're past it, we'll recycle them - yes even the eskies!

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