A few weeks ago I cold smoked a bunch of trout that I caught out of my mate Jacks dam. Being fish that live in still water they can taste a bit muddy at times so I opt for the smoking approach, which tends to distract you from the earthy flavour of dam trout. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like smoked trout?

After I dropped the kids off to school this morning, I made myself a fine breakfast, albeit late. The cold smoked trout was the centre piece. I cut off a few slices from a loaf of sourdough I baked last night, scooped out some ripe avocado, lay over some slices of the smoked trout, topped it with grilled jalapeño, added fennel fronds from the garden, and finally crumbled over soft goat feta on top. A season of salt and pepper and breakfast was made. It was delicious.

As I sat on the stool looking out through the kitchen window, munching and enjoy the food, I thought about all the ingredients for my meal. I was content that I knew what was in my food, and how the ingredients came to be on my kitchen bench. Then I thought a lot about a bag of grapes. Yes a bag of grapes. No I wasn’t eating the grapes, the grapes I was thinking about where in a bag that was offered to us at a diner we visited after school yesterday. The lovely lady that owns the diner offered my kids the grapes to eat as her son could no longer eat them. She explained that he now has an allergic reaction to them, he comes out in hives. I had a spell of hives when I was a kid once, it’s not cool.

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I looked at the packet of fresh looking grapes and noticed in large letters printed on the plastic bag ‘ALLERGY ADVICE, MAY CONTAIN: SULPHUR DIOXIDE’. I pointed this out to the lady at that just offered them and she was amazed that she had not noticed this health warning that was clearly printed in large print. I thanked her for the offer, but wasn’t keen for my kids to eat them so I declined.

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I took a photo of the grapes though and loaded it to my instagram account with the caption ‘amazeballs’. Because, well quite frankly I find it amazing that we are offered food that has been treaded with something like sulphur dioxide to keep it ‘fresh’. There are lots of cases where sulphites are used as a preservative in foods, and wine, and they do an amazing job of keep food preserved. They also cause some reactions in our humans bodies too. Hives is one example, but shortness of breath and asthma is another, and there are many more, some I’m sure we will learn about well into the future.

The point I’m making is (and you can call me a hippy here) I just find it amazing that we tamper with our food so much, without 100% categorically knowing the implications and adverse effects it may have on our health. We as consumers buy this stuff, we eat it, and thus we introduce certain chemical compositions into our bodies. We do this happyily trusting that it’s safe. There was a warning on the packet, so that should do the trick right?

It’s a bit of a gamble though. Not all of us have a medical science background. Not all of us have spent a lifetime researching the effects of preservatives in food on humans. Not all of us have lived a full life of consuming such food to see what happens at the end. But we continue to eat it. Fully trusting in government legislation and regulation. That is until something fucks up, like say contracting Hepatitis A from imported frozen berries from China. Now don’t think I’m simply taking this weeks hot food scare story to bolster my message about eating real food, there is so many bad food stories out there that I could write something about it each week, this weeks Hepatitis A food news is not an isolated incident. There is an endless supply of stories about how peoples health is effected by packaged food, processed food or any food that’s been treated with pesticides or preservatives. Then there’s the modern western illness of obesity and it’s long list of health implications. We could go on about it for hours, days, months.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the writings on the wall. It’s been on the wall for a long time. There are many people that will poke fun at this message, and that is to be expected. Poke fun as they may, the principle reality that shit food equates to shit health will still remain.

The reality is that our bodies are natural machines that run well on natural fuels, not tampered food. You don’t even need to be a scientist to comprehend that principle. I like this reality, it’s what I try to live my life by. It’s one of those realities we can’t change, just like the one about nature not needing us, but us needing nature. The planet would survive quite happily without humans, but we desperately need natural resources to keep us alive.

One reality that I find a bit shitty, is that western humans simply will not change. The isles at the supermarkets will continue to be stocked with ‘food’ that is highly processed and that eventually will make us sick. The fast food chains will continue to have millions of robotic customers through their doors, and as a result we will continue to get fatter, sicker and eventually reduce our life expectancy. And you know what? Who gives a shit?

A minority of people give a shit. A minority of people are prepared to make change in their lives, for their health, for the health of their family and for the health of the natural world. It’s not a matter of Us Vs Them. You either think it’s important or you don’t.

I don’t really want to engage in any discussions about this anymore. It’s like flogging a dead horse. It’s becoming a real waste of time arguing with people that seem to be siding with the idea that processed foods are ok, and everything is alright. Well it’s not. And I figure most people are going to continue to remain ignorant, and they can because thats the beauty of personal and free choice. The only problem with this system is that by the time I’m old and needing health care, the medical system will be full of sick people that could have made a change when they where younger. That pressure on the health system will be phenomenal. And that’s a reality I’d like to see change.

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  • February 26, 2015 - 3:00 am

    ADi - kind of like this – you can avoid reality but you cannot avoid the consequences of reality. I often wonder if the majority of the human race is actually de-evolving?ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 3:34 am

    Corie White - I love your book and outlook on life. Your a great inspiration!!ReplyCancel

    • February 26, 2015 - 9:16 am

      rohan - Cheers mate. Missed you guys on the weekend.ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 3:47 am

    jasmine mansbridge - I don’t comment much but I do enjoy your posts.. I save lots of money by eating seasonally from our garden (right now its Zuc & tomatos) and keeping 11 chooks.. I also try to do my best in other ways but I know there are many ways I can continue to improve our food sources. Keep up the good work as you do encourage the likes of myself… thanks RoReplyCancel

    • February 26, 2015 - 9:13 am

      rohan - Thanks Jasmine. Not one of us is perfect. I think my worry is that it’s only a few that are aware an issue even exists. That is to me the biggest concern for us.ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 3:57 am

    Ame - Hi! Check out the movie Bought. Free screening currently at boughtmovie.com
    Think you’d find it interesting- discusses GMO’s, vaccines, big pharma – how they are making our kids sick! Super frustrating our times are!ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 4:22 am

    Roz - With you all the way on this.
    It’s difficult to watch people self-destruct.
    Your posts are very refreshing and inspiring, thank youReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 4:56 am

    Sarah Raaen - I want to fist bump this so damn hard! Nailed it, dude. All of it.ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 5:16 am

    Kim - I agree with you – it is so fundamentally important & central to our well-being, and yet, it is also completely outrageous that, with all our knowledge, it is even still a battle to be fought. Also, I think I might just have solved the mystery of my son’s skin reaction. He has been eating a lot of grapes, some organic, some possibly with added, unlabelled, sulphur dioxide…ReplyCancel

    • February 26, 2015 - 9:14 am

      rohan - It’s amazing that we even need to have this conversation. Wouldn’t it be better if we all ate real organic food? A nice start anyway! Hope you son is ok!ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 7:51 am

    Joanne - Totally awesome piece Rohan. It is sad to see people walk through the supermarket aisles unaware of what that food is doing to them and it is also sad to see the monopoly supermarkets have and what is happening to our food system.
    Lets not give up on the fight. One by one we can continue to make a change. and you This particular article will be sent to someone who had no idea to look on the side of grapes for the ingredients and you have made a difference without you realising it.

    Keep up the fight Ro

    Ps I posted this on my facebook page.ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 9:40 am

    kassidy - I love your posts and can’t wait to try one of your veg boxes! You are so right about people who a give a shit about real food being a minority. Also the penny just dropped as to why I break out in a rash on my face and chest when I drink cheap wine! Keep up the good work you are truly an inspiration :) ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 10:30 am

    Carolyn Atkins - Rohan, you are an inspiration, and I want you to keep flogging that poor dead horse, because people like you really are making a difference. Truly.ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 1:25 pm

    Rob Wilmot - The sad reality concerning sustainability, global warming, climate change, etc, is that everyone knows what has to be done, but no one wants to do it.When rubber-necking jet travel is eventually looked upon as smoking is now, we might be getting somewhere. But that’s a long way off I feel. Keep the wholefood message out there Rohan, even if most people couldn’t give a rat’s.ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 4:48 pm

    Josh - Right on! Really enjoyed and needed this article. I feel exactly the same. It is a real shame that society has labelled anyone who tries to talk about these issues a hippy and tries to dismiss them as unrealistic, or a dreamer etc. This is reality and people are procrastinating about taking responsibility assuming they will do it one day but not today…

    I really enjoy your blog keep it up, you have inspired me to look at starting my own.

    PeaceReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 9:37 pm

    Craig - One of the best pieces you have written thus far Ro. Five years ago my wife and I became so concerned with our western diets that we did something about it …. moved to the country in Victoria and now grow almost all our own food, including our meat. Unfortunately most people reckon we’re weirdos as we don’t have jobs – we just simply spend almost all our time growing natural and wholesome foods that will sustain us – and mate, it’s bloody hard work at times.

    Keep up the fight Ro, there are people out there listening … somewhere.ReplyCancel

  • February 26, 2015 - 10:55 pm

    Bea - All of it. XReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2015 - 2:24 am

    Sylvie - Thank you for this. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s hard to be the only one in a crowd of friends who gives a crap about the state of our food and our health. No one wants to hear it. Sometimes, when people look at me and say, “Who cares!?!” I feel like some sort of weird freak. I’m so glad for the internet, and people like you, to help me not give up!ReplyCancel

  • February 27, 2015 - 2:30 am

    Sarah Foster - Hit the nail on the head with this post
    Having children made me realise how badly i was eating. I turned my life around because I want to give my girls a good example in life and aim to feed them good wholesome food and see their parents living a healthy life, exercising regularly and eating properly. They are well educated kids and know where the majority of their food comes from (they are 5yo twins)
    I became so passionate about eating properly i am now studying nutritional medicine with the goal of being able to educate children and families of the importance of eating properly for health, well being and the survival of the planetReplyCancel

  • March 2, 2015 - 8:11 pm

    MPR - Good one. The more I think about things, the more I’m of the mindset that advertising the worst industry out there. Seems to me that they either create apathy or take advantage of naturally occurring apathy to promote products, any product, that maximize profit for whomever is paying to get the buy buy buy message out there. That is the reason why supermarkets are full of shit food and why regular (not processed) food relegated.ReplyCancel

The hill climb past Corryong made the old Fairmont’s engine moan. With each tight winding corner came another, then another. It seems like a never ending labyrinth of tight corners, steep descents and hill climbs that would challenge Sir Edmund Hillary. Sometimes the drop off to the side of the road is so steep, you lose your stomach peeking over when you drive. Some unlucky bastards made the plunge, their land cruiser looked a little worse for ware, actually it was a right off for sure. I kept my eye on the road, and we where feeling fresh from an over night stay at a friends house on Lake Hume.

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Breaking up the drive for this years high country fly fish was a brilliant idea. I think it’s a bit safer than making the trip in a single day. A rest can do wonders on such a long haul. Well it’s not really that far a drive, all things considered, it’s just the terrain. It takes a lot out of a driver, concentrating on the demanding roads. But we’re not here to talk about road trips. It’s fly fishing that takes me this high up the mountains each year. It’s all about the Eucumbene.

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It’s a river that has definitely entranced me. I will return year after year to fish it’s challenging waters. It has provided me with some magnificent memories and some heart breaking fishing moments. What was in stall for us this year, was anyones guess. This year I travelled up with my mate Raynor, as Jeff had decided to fish Tasmania this summer. Raynor’s a keen fisherman and was chomping at the bit to fish the majestic river.

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We arrived Sunday, headed out on the water in the afternoon. The water was at a good level, not too low as it had been my previous visit. The water is fresh and clean, so clean we drink it straight from the river. There isn’t any stock up here, give or take the odd wild Brumby, so the water isn’t polluted. It’s mostly snow melt, and it’s the best tasting river water in Australia. That afternoon I hooked a small brown on one of my favourite runs. Back in to the water he went, and I smiled like a kid, for at least ten minutes non stop. I was back on the river.

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The next two days where magic. We fished long days and had reasonable success. Raynor caught all the big ones for our dinner, while I had a talent for catching all the small fry. But who cares really? It’s the time on the river, catching fish, any fish. That’s the thing that I’ve learnt with fly fishing over the years. It’s about the process and the experience. Honestly I’m not sure why it’s great to be out there, it just is. I don’t even really want to try to figure out why I love it so much, I just want to keep doing it.

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In the late afternoons and into evening I’d prepare the meal while Raynor would build his famous fire teepee. We’d watch the amazing storm cloud of summer role in, and just take in the view, of which we could see for miles around us. We ate well and drank whiskey on ice.

There is no phone reception. No amenities. No real comfort. We lay on the ground in swags, looking up at the stars and fall to sleep, to dream of trout on hooks and bottomless glasses of whiskey. Until next time, Eucumbene.

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  • February 23, 2015 - 9:39 am

    Jeff - The Eucy has many characters, shades and experiences. My time will come again!ReplyCancel

  • February 23, 2015 - 10:23 am

    Jane @ Shady Baker - Love this post. It reminds me of an old friend who was a professional roo shooter in the outback. He was also a keen fisherman and often spoke fondly of Eucumbene. Sadly he is no longer with us.

    Beautiful photos and words as always. But man…those wheels. It doesn’t get much better.ReplyCancel

  • February 23, 2015 - 10:25 am

    Little White Dove - My uncle used to fish the Eucy religiously with his stash of ever growing ever changing home made flys… I wanted him to make some into earrings for me when I younger… (in my defence it was the 80′s!)… Love the photos and reading about the magic that is getting out of range and enjoying the mountains.ReplyCancel

  • February 23, 2015 - 3:50 pm

    Mike Sepelak - “…I’m not sure why it’s great to be out there, it just is. I don’t even really want to try to figure out why I love it so much, I just want to keep doing it.”

    And yet we keep trying to articulate it, foolish folk that we are. Perhaps just letting it happen without analysis is the far better path. I think that you’re on to something there.

    Cheers, my friend. Hope you are well.ReplyCancel

    • February 26, 2015 - 9:17 am

      rohan - MIKE!!!!! It’s not even worth trying to figure out mate. I just leave it be. That is until I’m sitting round the camp fire late at night.ReplyCancel

      • February 26, 2015 - 9:41 pm

        Mike Sepelak - The very best time for such things, Ro. It’s been too long, mate. Hope you are well.ReplyCancel

  • February 23, 2015 - 10:44 pm

    Arthur - One of your best Rowan! Great writing and even better photos of your most recent experience on the Eucumbene River. I’m jealous.ReplyCancel

  • February 25, 2015 - 12:30 am

    Jessie - Oh my! What a picture you paint. And what flavours haunt your post too. I can nearly taste trout, smell the clean air and that water must be magnificent. What a wonderful experience.ReplyCancel

Yesterday while watering the veg patch I noticed that my little crop of beetroot had gone from golf ball size to oversized tennis ball size. As I didn’t grow the beets for any sports ball, I decided it was time to pull some out and cook with them.

It’s pretty amazing this process of growing food in your backyard. And it still blows me away how easy the process it. You see, it was sometime late last year that I raked over a modest patch of soil in my garden, and sprinkled some beetroot seeds in. After a few weeks they germinated, they’ve been growing all summer long. Now they’re big, red and beautiful. It’s food man. In my backyard! I can totally dig that (see what I did there?)

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The best part about being a grower is that I’m an active protester. This is my voice of protest, it’s active and practical. And whilst I may be sticking my finger up at the the crappy food processing mega system of the western world, I’m also feeding my family in the process. That’s a practical outcome that makes me boogie.

If you can’t grow your own food but want to eat real food like this, then remember that I deliver it to Melbourne. So you too can stick your finger up at the system, and the side benefit is that you’re eating nutritional rich organic produce just grown over an hour of the big smoke.

Order VEG HERE.

Also if you’re on the internet, please show us what your doing with the veg, eggs, meat or my sourdough starter. We love seeing how this real food ends up.

#WLLFOOD

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  • February 11, 2015 - 12:55 am

    Hugh - Would love to order a box but live in Sydney. Is there anything similar to what you do but up our way?ReplyCancel

  • February 11, 2015 - 3:02 am

    Jessie - Made lunch the other day for the kids and I. 1/2 a homegrown spaghetti squash (was big enough to feed 8 people with leftovers!) with homegrown cherry tomatoes, homegrown green beans, cheese (just crappy shop bought but we’re getting there) with a little salt and pepper. It tasted amazing and I swear it was still growing as we ate it. The other week we had homegrown rainbow corn and purple potato mash. :D
    This is the 1st year my gardens are showing some serious returns and my stomach bows low in appreciation after every meal we eat that was grown in it. Asides from the obvious (and totally valid) health and environmental benefits of homegrown food, the superior taste is a brilliant reason within itself to grow one’s own food!ReplyCancel

  • February 12, 2015 - 8:43 am

    Craig P - Nice work R,
    Over supervised my beets and got bugger all.
    Planted another batch, with lettuce, from my local farmers market. And forgot about it after the green leafs(leaves)left. Then lo and behold, the neglected beetroot seedlings put forth the best fist sized goodness.

    Gotta love MotherReplyCancel