Australian fruits are in the press again because of recent research by the CSIRO confirming work we conducted at Charles Sturt University last year. This showed that a range of red, crimson to purple Australian fruits have astronomic levels of antioxidants, particularly the nutritious anthocyanins and related polyphenols.

However, Australian herbs and spices are equally valuable as foods as they contain compounds which have properties that are anti-arthritic; anti-diabetic; immune boosting; anti-hypertensive; anti-stress; anti-ageing; and anti-cancer. Still others have compounds which directly stimulate the learning centre of the brain and clinical studies suggest that they appear to ward off diseases such as senile dementia and Alzheimer’s.

So all in all, it is worth planting these Australian fruits, herbs and spices to be able to just walk outside and pick them fresh whenever you need them for a recipe, refreshing drink or warming soup.

Additionally, we know that here in Australia, water is a rare resource and a native garden can be a strategy to cut your domestic water usage dramatically while also feeding yourself and your family, birds, possums and a host of lizards, skinks and other critters.

The easiest way to learn about finding useful plants in nurseries or collecting seeds and propagation material, getting plants growing and garden design is to find a library or second hand copy of my first book, The Bushfood Handbook. This was sub-titled how to grow, find, process and prepare wild Australian foods and an entire chapter on building your own backyard foraging patch is still relevant, even 18 years since writing it. There are guides to germinating seeds, getting information on local edibles, building appealing landscapes and more.

There are also tables at the back of the book listing hundreds of Australian food plants in rainforest, Sydney sandstone country and deserts as the big three landscapes in terms of population density. The lists really cover the entire eastern seaboard, the country along both sides of the great Dividing Range and the far west and into Central Australia and the arid zone of eastern WA.

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