Grow­ers pleased to “have some­one bat­ting for us’

When food writer Kathy Pater­son was grow­ing up on a crop­ping farm out of Christchurch and her fa­ther left a swede by the back door she would think, “Oh, no, not swede for tea”.

NZ Grower - - News - By Glenys Chris­tian

But now the for­mer pres­i­dent of New Zealand Food Writ­ers is an en­thu­si­as­tic pro­moter of all fresh veg­eta­bles, and was guest speaker at the Pukekohe Veg­etable Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion’s (PVGA) re­cent an­nual meet­ing.

She con­grat­u­lated grow­ers on the as­so­ca­tion cel­e­brat­ing its cen­te­nary this year and said she had the great­est re­spect for them and the de­mands they now faced on their rich, fer­tile land. As well as be­ing a reg­u­lar writer in the New Zealand Her­ald’s Bite mag­a­zine she is also work­ing on two books. One is a re­print of The New Zealand Rugby Kitchen, which is made up of recipes con­trib­uted by play­ers with pro­ceeds go­ing to dis­abled play­ers. Whereas five years ago fam­ily recipes were sent in she said this time all of them came from the In­ter­net – “apart from Sean Fitz­patrick’s aunty’s choco­late fudge”. And two of the play­ers con­tribut­ing recipes were ve­gan.

She is also work­ing on her own book, Meat and Three, which she said aimed to take read­ers back to how peo­ple ate on farms sev­eral decades ago when a lamb roast was cooked and then was used as the base for the two fol­low­ing meals.

“I hope peo­ple will go back to our tra­di­tions,” she said.

She was us­ing all New Zealand-sourced in­gre­di­ents in the book apart from rice. “The only other thing I stum­bled on was some spices.”

A typ­i­cal meal might be based on charred sweet­corn and lightly steamed green beans.

“That’s in­ter­est­ing and healthy and then peo­ple will put meat with it,” she said. She also worked with Chi­nese im­mi­grants want­ing to know how to cook lamb, where she was able to pro­vide a num­ber of dif­fer­ent dishes us­ing a va­ri­ety of cuts as well as a range of veg­eta­bles.

When it came to food trends she said most orig­i­nated in the United States. Mil­lenials were mov­ing to more plant­based meals with many be­com­ing flex­i­tar­i­ans or hav­ing meat-free days ev­ery week. Mar­ket re­search showed that peo­ple un­der 40 had in­creased their veg­etable in­take by 60% in re­cent years and there had also been a 90% in­crease recorded in searches on google for ve­gan recipes.

“There are more plant-based start-up com­pa­nies,” she said.

One food be­com­ing more pop­u­lar was ve­gan cheese which was in strong de­mand as a pizza top­ping.

But le­gal def­i­ni­tions were com­ing into to play more, with for ex­am­ple, a broc­coli “steak” not able to be named as such in France.

Pater­son said some other trends were an in­crease in the va­ri­ety of In­dian fast food, and Korean food, with both cuisines fea­tur­ing the use of many dif­fer­ent veg­eta­bles. Zhug, an Is­raeli/ Ye­meni spice paste, was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar and tasted great with grilled veg­eta­bles, she said.

More va­ri­eties of veg­etable pizza crusts were be­ing seen which were made from dif­fer­ent veg­eta­bles bound to­gether with chick pea flour. And lamb burg­ers were hav­ing blended mush­room and soy added so there was less meat con­tent

“And are hemp seeds go­ing to be the new pump­kin seeds?” she asked.

When it came to lab meat she said it was get­ting pretty good. It needed to look as if it was meat and should be more cost ef­fec­tive to pro­duce. But meat still had a lot to of­fer and al­ter­na­tives might mean more de­mand for the real thing, es­pe­cially when it came to the pre­mium end of the mar­ket, which was what meat pro­duc­ers could con­cen­trate on sup­ply­ing.

When it came to sub­sti­tutes for chicken she said she had tasted the prod­uct but found it “a bit weird, a bit rub­bery”. More work needed to be done with get­ting stu­dents to cook so as adults they could make ed­u­cated choices about what food they ate.

Im­me­di­ate PVGA past-pres­i­dent, Brent Wil­cox, said it was clear there was a tremen­dous amount of op­por­tu­nity at present for veg­eta­bles and grow­ers were the first pro­mot­ers of their prod­uct. He asked how many times a week she ate kale, which she said de­pended for many peo­ple on how old they were, how good their teeth were and per­sonal taste. The stem, which could be very firm, could be taken out of the leaves and she of­ten used this in a quiche which made it “quite de­li­cious”.

She bought veg­eta­bles at Farro Fresh, green­gro­cers and farm­ers’ mar­kets but avoided su­per­mar­kets and also sell­ers who used too much plas­tic pack­ag­ing. “It just doesn’t ap­peal - it’s not as fresh,” she said.

“For me it’s all about the fresh­ness.” She grew her own spinach and chard and her herb gar­den at her Kings­land home kept her supplied year-round. For­mer Veg­eta­bles NZ Inc pres­i­dent, Keith Val­labh, thanked her for her ef­forts to make veg­eta­bles cen­tre of the plate for din­ers.

“It’s great to have some­one bat­ting for us.”

▶ Food writer, Kathy Pater­son, with an ar­ray of fresh veg­eta­bles.

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