Being part of Australia’s ethical pork arena is about more than just empty promises. It’s about being accountable for the practices of every human being standing between the pigs in the paddock and your customer’s plate.
Coles recently let inner west ethical foodies down by the conspicuous absence of Peter McCormack, their national pork buyer, at the Parson’s Factory Feast Day debate set up by ethical providore Feather and Bone. McCormack’s boss Guy Hooper had this to say: “Work commitments required Peter to stay in Melbourne and we were not able to find a suitable replacement on such short notice. I apologise for any inconvenience caused. Coles remains committed to animal welfare and ethical sourcing standards as demonstrated by the Sow Stall Free Pork initiative.”
Organiser Laura Dalrymple’s resulting ‘whinge about Coles’ concluded: “It doesn’t alter the fact that they [Coles] are the first of the supermarket behemoths to make moves to support more humane treatment of pigs (which is why we invited them to participate), but it certainly casts a very cynical light on their motivations for doing so.” Either way, it’s going to take until 2014 for Coles to finish phasing out those sow stalls, so I suggest you source your ethical Xmas pig elsewhere until then.
Speaking of slaps to the face, if you’re anything like me you’ve got your eyes glued to your flat-screen for your weekly instalment of ABC TV’s The Slap. It’s refreshing to see a series reflect the flawed, multicultural Australia I experienced growing up. So naturally, when I mention the name Melinda Dimitriades, you’re going to know just whose charismatic sister I’m taking about… She’s been honing her skills as a market providore across various market stalls at Eveleigh, Pyrmont, North Sydney, Fox Studios, Bowral, French’s Forest and Orange Grove. After last year’s Xmas ham, I can personally attest that she’s got a keen eye for pork, alongside my favourite Junee Lamb, and Kangaroo Island Eggs. She’s also got much easier to track down, opening a little shopfront called Farmgate: Things of Meat & Milk at 7 Botany Road, Waterloo, near Redfern Station. Catch her Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7am – 4pm, or phone (0412) 886 669 for market pickup.
My last meaty Xmas option is a gift idea guaranteed to convert the least humane member of your family into a grass-fed die-hard. While you’re stocking up on your own seasonal meat at Marrickville’s Urban Food Market, pick up an ethical, sustainable food voucher. If this glorious steak I cooked up at home is any indication, you’ll be able have yourself a conscientious, needs-based Xmas whilst dragging your friends and family toward humane meat consumption by their tastebuds.
Another holiday initiative I’ve committed to is using my bucks to support small, independent businesses in my local area. Following on from my claim that this will be Sydney’s summer of cider, local bottle shop hero Amato’s Liquor Mart have moved their cider range from a hidden back corner to right by the checkout. As I tap out this column I’m alternating between two of Magners’ latest selections – a fragrant apple cider with berries and a taste of peach; and an even better pear cider with sweetness tempered by natural ginger ($8.50/500ml). They’re only 4% alcohol, perfect for an all-day picnic at a faraway beach where you know you have to drive home eventually.
I’ve also become a bit of an Aperol convert in recent times, mostly thanks to Spiedo Restaurant & Bar’s Pirlo, a refreshing summer cocktail of Aperol, Prosecco, and sparkling mineral water finished with a fresh orange. If the idea of shopping centre at Xmas makes you shudder, you can also get an Aperol Spritz fix at Norton Street’s Aperitivo, or pick up a bottle of Aperol ($24.99/700ml) at Amato’s and mix your own. It’s smooth Sunday arvo sailing with only 11% alcohol – chinchin!
Finally if you’re kicking yourself for missing Glebe Street Fair last weekend, console yourself on Sunday 4th December with Dulwich Hill’s version! Beyond the usual arty, crafty stalls, Rachael Brown from Marrickville Council tells me: “There will be a range of food stalls, offering international cuisine such as Spanish paella, German bratwurst and Portuguese chicken. Fair favourites – fresh lemonade, fairy floss and toffee apples – will be available as well as plenty of other sweets and treats.” You’ll find them on Seaview Street between 10am and 4pm.