Crocodile Meat, Bush Foods Find Popularity in Aussie Stores

Stephanie Peatling in Sydney
for National Geographic News
September 14, 2006

In Australia, urban restaurants today are more likely to offer dishes like low-fat kangaroo, perhaps served on a bed of warrigal greens with a berry jus of lilly pillies.

These so-called bush foods were once found only in outback towns like Alice Springs, where tourists might try a bit of native tucker.

(Read a travel article about seeing Australia through Aboriginal eyes.)

But more recently, indigenous foods have left the bush for more visible spots in city restaurants and supermarkets.

As Australia's appetite for indigenous foods has grown, so have the business opportunities for isolated Aboriginal communities.

In 1986 Juliegh and Ian Robins set up what is now the country's largest native herbs and spices company, Robins Foods.

The former chefs wanted to bring new tastes and flavors into mainstream Australian cooking and also help rural Aboriginal communities create their own businesses.

The company is now partnered with one of Australia's best-known food brands, Ward McKenzie, to bring native foods, such as kakadu plums, wattle seeds (which, when roasted, have hints of coffee, hazelnut, and chocolate flavors), and bush tomatoes, to a wider market.

Juliegh Robins described it as less of a business arrangement and more of a "nurturing relationship to enable us to grow the industry and the supply chain."

Feral Pigs, Camels

The partnership means indigenous food products now sit on the shelves of one of the country's major supermarket chains alongside more traditional herbs, spices, marinades, and chutneys.

"People pick up the [standard] sauces, dressings, and chutneys and know what to do with them," Robins said. "It will be interesting to see what people do when they pick up raw [native] herbs."

Continued on Next Page >>


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