A lot of people ask how I’ve stuck at developing Australian wild foods for over 3 decades from when I was introduced to these unique resources of the World’s longest living culture. I recognised that we could not afford to lose this knowledge post-invasion and I knew there was an industry in commercialising these amazing ingredients. My thoughts were along the lines of “a few years of hard work and I’ll be an overnight success”. Well, with 20:20 hindsight, I must have been crazy.

To create the wild food industry meant working with suppliers (both, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal collectors and growers), chefs, caterers, manufacturers and then the challenges of moving into export markets as well. As I created demand for any particular food other entrepreneurs, often those who I trusted and with whom I worked closely grabbed a piece of the market and carved out a niche for themselves in competition. That’s business, I guess and it isn’t in our Australian nature to collaborate too much but it did force me to run that little bit harder to stay out in front. Competition IS healthy even though hard at times.

So I used my science background to develop leading edge processing ingredients for innovative manufacturers who needed more than just simple herbs, spices, fruits or juices. I also learned that chefs who run serious food kitchens prefer high quality, easy to use ingredients including syrups, sauce bases, preserves, infused oils, seasonings and more. Anything good that makes their lives easier and their dishes more consistent.

This included:

encapsulated essential oils, fruit juices and extracts
subcritical CO2 flavour extracts
freeze-dried fruits – whole, slices or powders
juices, purees, concentrates, preserves, sauces etc
special formulations, seasonings and blends
natural antimicrobials – see Herbal-Active wins innovation award®
super-nutritionals – see LIFE (Lyophilized Indigenous Food Essentials)
functional ingredients eg Karuah Rainforest Mist® and Mouth Mist®, LIFE, Desert Rub®, Turbo’d Turmeric®

and on to support documentation:

specification sheets
certificates of compliance
material safety data sheets
quality assurance processes, manuals, HACCP plans etc
application information, product development consultancies and more

The science of turning wild Aboriginal foodstuffs into ingredients for the modern food, beverage, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries has the potential to keep an army busy for several lifetimes. I know it is what keeps me interested and forward-thinking (and way out in front of the industry).

But now, even I think that I must be crazy.

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