FOOD is everyone’s business, especially in Ballarat.
Chefs, farmers, politicians and members of the public attended one of the region’s first Ballarat food forums on Tuesday night.
Chef and food writer Suzi Fitzpatrick, Melbourne chef Riccardo Momesso, Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh, Rural Advisory Committee Moorabool chair Chris Sharkey and Central Highlands Agricultural Forum chairman Andrew Young shared their thoughts on the future of Ballarat’s food industry.
Everything from food miles, problems with buying local, Australia’s strong export ties with Asia and issues facing farmers were discussed.
Ms Fitzpatrick said Ballarat’s food scene had come a long way since she started working in the industry a decade ago.
“The whole region has just blossomed when it comes to food,” she said. “People ask if we are a food destination – I think we are there.”
Fellow speaker and chef Mr Momesso agreed.
“Daylesford has become a little food mecca and there is no reason why that can’t be done in Ballarat or Kyneton,” he said.
Mr Momesso, who owns and cooks at Valentino restaurant in Melbourne, said residents had a skewed perception of fresh produce.
“Why are there so many large food chains in country towns when we have farms on our doorsteps?” he asked.
“We don’t want big companies like Coles or McDonald’s telling us what we can and can’t eat, do we?”
He said locals needed to forge better relationships with farmers.
“There should be farmers’ markets twice a week, not just on Sunday,” Mr Momesso said.
“If we supported farmers more than we do, we would make a big impact on the big supermarket chains.”
Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh spoke about
the impact the state government’s trade missions had on the food industry and economy.
He said 550 food businesses had been on 13 international trade missions under the state Coalition government.
“We have set a target to double food production in Victoria by 2030,” Mr Walsh said.
More than 50 people attended the Food is Everyone’s Business forum at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
Nationals candidate for Buninyong Sonia Smith was the MC.