Who better than Penny Rafferty the head of sustainability for Tourism Australia to single out the best sustainable food and drink to try when we’re next Down Under.
We all know we need to eat and drink better, not just for our health, but for the planet. As more of us grow more climate-conscious, restaurants who are committed to sustainability by championing ‘local’ ingredients with seasonal menus, or by indicating a food’s origins and farm connection are giving diners a better sense of their offerings and a taste of their business philosophy.
One of the best places to do this is in Australia where sustainable dining extends to “embracing our multiculturalism, nurturing local producers and maximising inventiveness with the ingredients you’re able to forage or source locally,” shares Penny Rafferty, head of sustainability for Tourism Australia. “Australia’s sheer size means we have incredibly diverse landscapes and incredibly diverse sustainably grown and harvested food sources. Many Australian restaurants have demonstrated creative use of native and organic ingredients.”
While Australia is unique in with “its own unique food bowl”, native ingredients like Finger lime, Wattleseed, Kakadu plum, Bush tomatoes, Quandong and Lemon myrtle offer a real taste of the country, ingredients that Rafferty qualifies that “the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people have been using for thousands of years for their unique flavours or medicinal purposes”.
So when you’re next in Australia, seek out these creative sustainable dining choices as recommended by Rafferty, that’s sure to leave an impression.
Sydney’s Re-Bar is the world’s first permanent no-waste bar featuring cocktails made with ‘ugly’ fruit and upcycled décor (benchtops are made with recycled milk bottles; light fixtures and wine coolers are made with mycelium, and banquettes are clothed in pineapple-leaf fibre). The menu includes banana-skin syrup in an old-fashioned cocktail and the food is made with leftover ingredients, such as a sorbet from fermented pineapple skin and plum.
This Melbourne Lebanese-themed kitchen and eatery is Australia’s first 100% renewable-run street food zero-carbon kitchen. There’s an on-site rainwater filtration system, solar panels, a Tesla battery, a generator powered by waste cooking oil, and food waste is transformed into nutrient-rich soil for local community gardens. Guests can expect a range of traditional dips and gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options; they can also view numbers showing the carbon emissions being saved with each dish and drink.
Known for their menu that’s all locally sourced and comes with a map of each ingredient’s Western Australia origins. Try ingredients like Youlk (native root vegetable from the Ravensthorpe region), boat tubers, and Mottenai Lamb (fed on carrot and olive waste, the by-product of a neighbouring carrot farm and olive grove).
For the homesick Singaporean craving Asian food, this Australian-Cantonese style restaurant features native plants and ingredients like lemon aspen, saltbush, and green tree ants. Most dishes are sourced locally from a nearby Jiwah Indigenous garden.
Offering fine dining tasting menus, almost every dish involves ingredients from the gardens they maintain at the historic Ripponlea Estate, including a 19th-century collection of Indigenous plants.
Discover more interesting dining options in our Lifestyle Section.