HOW TO SHOP
Where possible, choose to shop small and local. If you can only buy at the big supermarkets, buy seasonally and buy Australian.
Seasonal fruit and vegetables
Seasonal eating has always been at the very heart of Cornersmith’s approach. Geographical differences affect seasonal availability and as our planet’s weather changes, many crops are growing at different times of the year. For a guide to what’s in season when, we recommend asking your grocer or getting online. As a rule of thumb, whatever is most plentiful and affordable at the market will be in season.
Throughout this book we provide suggestions for swapping out fruit and veg. We keep it simple: starchy vegetables are often cooked in the same way and can, therefore, be swapped in and out; you can usually substitute one member of the allium family (garlic, leeks, chives, etc.) for another; and most leafy greens can cover for each other. So make do with what is in season and what you already have in the house.
‘Ugly’ fruit and veg
So called ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables are gaining in popularity. There is nothing actually wrong with this produce; they just tend to be a bit misshapen or wonky. Supermarkets choose produce that can be stored well for long periods of time and stacked uniformly. At Cornersmith, we have rescued many kilos of fruit and vegetables that have been rejected by supermarkets just because they didn’t fit this criteria. In the past, this kind of produce went to landfill, but look out for these ‘ugly’ beauties where you shop as retailers are increasingly selling them off cheaper than the ‘premium’ product.
We love bulk-food suppliers where we can take our own bags and containers and get all our basic goods. Make an effort to support these retailers, but if there isn’t one near you there is plenty you can do to reduce packaging. Bring your own bags to the supermarket and stop using plastic bags. Choose pasta that comes in boxes, and buy bigger quantities of butter and yoghurt so you aren’t doubling up on packaging. Buy whole vegetables, such as cabbage and pumpkin, whenever possible. Try not to buy pre-packed salads and herbs – they are often washed with all kinds of chemicals. And if you only have the big supermarket chains to choose from, make a noise and tell them you disapprove of their attitude towards plastic. It worked for shopping bags, so it can work for all single-use plastics.
Ethical meat and animal products
Meat and dairy take huge amounts of resources to produce, so our approach is to only buy from trusted suppliers who take into account animal welfare and sustainable farming practices with minimal environmental impact. We advocate eating meat less frequently and in smaller amounts – making it the garnish rather than the hero of the meal. Our take on using dairy is to cut back; think of them as special ingredients and never waste a drop. Buy the best-quality dairy products you can afford, with the least amount of ingredients, and only buy what you need. Learn how easy it is to salt excess ricotta to make your own crumbly hard cheese, and save your parmesan rinds and use them to extract as much flavour as you can. Moving towards a diet with minimal animal products is probably the most sustainable choice we can make.
Images and text from Use It All by Alex Elliott-Howery and Jaimee Edwards, photography by Cath Muscat. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.