Coronavirus restrictions will move to stage 3.1 in the ACT on Monday, allowing food courts and the Canberra Casino to reopen

Coronavirus restrictions in the ACT will ease further from Monday, with the territory moving to stage 3.1 as it marks almost one month since the last confirmed COVID-19 case was recorded.

This morning the ACT Government announced that from 9:00am on Monday August 10, Canberrans would once more be allowed to dine-in at food courts and gaming could recommence in clubs and at the Canberra Casino.

Steam rooms and saunas, strip clubs, brothels and escort agencies can also reopen, and 24 hour gyms can have a maximum of 25 people when unstaffed.

But while some restrictions will ease from Monday, the Government said others originally flagged as part of stage 3 were not being introduced.

The rule of one person per four square metres remains in place, as do restrictions around keeping gatherings to a maximum of 100 people, both inside and outside.

Bars must continue to serve alcohol only to seated patrons, though there are no longer limits on the size of group bookings.

And while most businesses were already displaying occupancy limits, the ACT Government has now made it a requirement.

“However, the requirements under the public health directions are not just the responsibility of businesses, they extend to all of us, to all Canberrans,” ACT Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman said.

The ACT has been at stage 2.2 of restrictions since June 19, with the Government deciding to hold restrictions in place on multiple occasions due to outbreaks in Victoria, Sydney and Batemans Bay.

“The ACT continues to be in a strong position in regard to COVID-19 cases and our readiness to respond to cases in the event that they were to occur,” Dr Coleman said.

“We have in place firm travel advice on specific areas of New South Wales, including the Greater Sydney region. We also have in place border controls with Victoria, which have proved to be effective.


But Dr Coleman said while restrictions were easing once more, businesses must continue to follow their COVID Safety plans.

“In partnership with our colleagues in Access Canberra and ACT Policing, we will continue to work closely with all business sectors to support them to implement these public health guidelines and to implement COVID Safety plans that are a requirement,” she said.

She said the next checkpoint to decide whether restrictions would be eased further would take place in a fortnight, on August 20.

Restriction easing comes one day after ACT declared a hotspot by Queensland

The decision to ease restrictions came one day after Queensland said it would close its borders to all of NSW and the ACT from Saturday.

The ACT’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not warn him about the travel ban, but conceded the ACT was listed as a hotspot as it was being treated as if it is part of NSW.

“I’m surprised with this announcement,” Mr Barr said yesterday.

Mr Barr said he understood Ms Palaszczuk’s reasoning was that some NSW residents were flying into Queensland via the Canberra Airport.

“I’m not sure there is evidence to support that, but I’m happy to see it if it is the case and we could endeavour to address that specific question,” he said.

“But the ACT has had no active cases for most of this week now and no new cases for the best part of three weeks.”

ACT police testing fake COVID-19 flyers for DNA

A letter shows false information about coronavirus.
The fake COVID letter has been condemned by ACT Health.(Supplied)

ACT Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said investigations were continuing into the hoax letters containing false information about coronavirus which were distributed in some Canberra suburbs.

The flyer purports to contain an important COVID-19 health warning, but instead alleges that coronavirus is being spread by the government through the water supply, and that a possible vaccination against the virus could include a tracking device.

“I thank all Canberrans who have provided ACT Policing with some substantial information in relation to this investigation,” Deputy Commissioner Gaughan said.

“The letters are being examined forensically, hopefully for fingerprints or DNA.

“We also have received extensive CCTV footage from different premises.”

The flyers were distributed near testing centres in Garran and Watson.

Due to wet weather forecast this weekend in Canberra, the Government announced the drive through testing centre at Kambah would be temporarily closed from Friday August 7 until Sunday August 9.

Testing will still be available all weekend at the Garran Oval, Weston Creek and EPIC drive through sites.

On Friday testing will also be available at the West Belconnen Child and Family Centre in Kippax.

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No Name Lane – Good Food Gold Coast

Founded by Peter Gloftis in 2016, No Name Lane began as a tiny hole-in-the-wall café in a nameless laneway off Oracle Boulevard. Its trade consisted mostly of coffee, gourmet wrapped sandwiches and slices. Not anymore!

“The only constant in life is change,” said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and this quote is as true for the Gold Coast’s hospitality industry today as it was in Greece in 500 BCE.

Four years into its life and now on its third set of owners, the location, branding, and excellent Black Sheep coffee are the main reminders of the original No Name Lane. Apart from that, the café is almost unrecognisable.

Keeping pace with dining culture, new owners Kevin and Karissa Maxwell, who took over in March 2020, have renovated the space and menu to achieve their vision of what a great café could be.

“We wanted to provide an upmarket breakfast and lunch experience that matched the level of food already on offer in Oracle Boulevard,” Kevin explains, “a place that locals could call their own. There are some fabulous restaurants in the area, but we saw a gap in breakfast and brunch offerings that we want to fill.”

Using the time during lockdown when there was only takeaway trade, the couple renovated the restaurant, moving the bar to create a more open, inviting space. It’s a marked improvement, the Y-shaped venue uncluttered and bright, populated with gorgeous Uniqua chairs and copper-detailed tables.

The rare luxury of full table service in a café allows us to relax and dine in comfort. It’s a little thing that speaks volumes.

Food, too, has settled into a brunch-style menu bridging daytime dining. With talented young chef Josh Roberts in charge of the kitchen, each dish is exceptional. Josh may be only 26 years old, but this is his third role as Head Chef and rightly so. Dishes that sound inviting and accessible on the menu astound us with their detailed presentation.

Avocado toast was never like this, elegantly presented with shards of house-made kale chips and whipped Meredith Farm goats’ cheese, stepped up with pickles adding an acidic bite to the otherwise rich and creamy combo.

The Open Mushroom Omelette is perfectly wobbly inside, a rare feat. It is served with pan-fried sage, leeks and a medley of mushrooms.


Pancakes gain cherry sauce, cherry pearls and matcha crumble, splashed Picasso-like around the plate, dark chocolate mousse and cherry sorbet bringing depth and flavour, with maple syrup to pour over the dish at the table.

French toast made from chocolate-soaked brioche is a masterpiece, served with banana chocolate crumble, salted caramel, chocolate crème pâtissier and ice cream. While there are no items irrelevant to the taste of the dish (and neither should there be), the crunch of candied walnuts and the tang of good salt take this dish to next level status.

Brunch dishes extend into substantial lunch dishes such as 11-hour marinated Lamb shoulder pie, Korean chicken burger, the Goodness bowl and Pan-roasted salmon served on a pea purée with baby chat potatoes and a mustard-dressed watercress and herb salad, all clearly marked for dietary preferences.

As a café, No Name Lane has gone from strength to strength. Finally, four years after its beginnings, it has found its mojo, achieving on all fronts: great coffee, food, service and ambience.

No Name Lane, Elizabeth Ave, Broadbeach Ph: 07 5538 5221 Open daily 6am – 4pm


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Child friendly cafés – Good Food Gold Coast

The Gold Coast boasts a plethora of cafés, popular not only for their coffee but also for their fabulous food and atmosphere. But when you’re travelling with kids, the choices diminish. Sometimes you feel the need to don combat gear to even venture outside the house, let alone go dining!

We set out to find you the best family-friendly cafés where the whole family is welcome; places that have a separate kids’ menu as well as a fenced shaded play area so that everyone can relax and enjoy the experience.

First Fruits Coffee, Southport

Highlights: Kids’ menu, fenced undercover play area, regular play group

Beside the Church of Christ and diagonally opposite Parkwood Plaza, First Fruits Coffee overlooks a huge fully fenced undercover playground housing gym equipment, climbing castles and slides suitable for under 8s. Daniel and Anna Smith serve up their own coffee roast, First Fruits, together with cakes and treats. They can also do kids’ party catering. Playgroup is held at the centre every Thursday from 9.30am – 11.30am.

Dune Café, Palm Beach

Highlights: Kids’ menu, playground nearby, children’s parties

Voted the ‘Most Kid-friendly Café’ on the Gold Coast, the area around Dune Café is wildly busy on weekends and holidays. The family-friendly café looks out across an open grassed area to a sandy beach and boardwalk, with a pirate-themed playground located nearby. Dune offers plenty of kids’ choices, including hosting children’s parties.

The Fish Shak, Southport

Highlights: Kids’ menu, Water playground nearby

Fresh Australasian seafood and burgers form the highlight of The Fish Shak’s menu, making it a great choice for family fish and chips night. The Shak Espresso window faces out to the Broadwater serving coffee, cold drinks, ice creams and snacks to eat under shade overlooking the Broadwater Parklands. There’s wide open space for older children to play and the Rock Pools water playground is just around the corner.

Pasture & Co, Currumbin Valley

Highlights:  Kids dishes, weekly storytime and craft, children’s party options

At the entrance to Currumbin’s eco Village, this gorgeous café opens out at the back to an extensive grassed area where children can wander in clear view of their parents. Kangaroos visit each morning and late afternoon, and on Wednesdays there’s story time at 9.30am followed by children’s craft. The café menu contains several kids’ items such as scrambled eggs and ricotta pancakes as well as allergy-friendly cakes.

Sunlight Drive Café, Burleigh Heads

Highlights: Kids’ menu, fenced play area – CHECK play area details post Covid-19.

Realising a gap in the market, Aneta and Dennis Eilmann recently opened the coast’s most child-centric café. The main feature of the café is a huge fenced children’s play area fringed by dining tables and lounges so that parents can easily supervise their children. While parents and carers are well catered for with burgers, bowls and keto plates, kids can chomp down on housemade pancakes, picnic ‘plates’ and babycinos. NOTE: The play area has been changed since Covid, however this is still a child-friendly cafe.

BSKT Café, Mermaid Beach

Highlights: Kids’ menu, fenced undercover play area

Why not bring up your kids to appreciate good food? BSKT Café has its own fully fenced undercover kids’ play area including a cubby house backing onto the restaurant. There are five menu items ‘For the Kids’ including Berrylicious Pancakes, Tacka Tacos and Flatbread Ham and Cheese Toastie. Every Friday, kids eat free and there’s kids’ entertainment on the big screen in the playground.

Café Tahbella, Oxenford

Highlights: Kids’ menu, fenced undercover play area, child meal free on Sundays

Aimed squarely at its surrounding demographic, this family-friendly café offers well-priced made to order meals at very competitive prices. A small but well-equipped fenced-off play area takes up one corner of the café, complete with toys, books and a playhouse, its theme changing annually. There’s a separate kids’ menu on an activity sheet, and kids eat free every Sunday (one child free with every full-priced adult meal).

Cadence Café, Nerang

Highlights: Kids’ menu, fenced undercover play area

Catering primarily for locals, runners and cyclist-centric clientele, Cadence Café has a fully fenced play area under shade sail. Play equipment includes a boat and slippery slide. There’s also a separate children’s menu of breakfast and lunch items including waffles and calamari and chips. Meanwhile, for Mum and Dad, there are brekkies, bowls, salads and sandwiches with gluten-free and vegan options.

Historic Rivermill Café, Mt Nathan

Highlights: Kids’ menu, animals, children’s parties

Located beside a river at Mt Nathan, this historic property has spacious grounds leading down to a river. Llama and deer are housed in a large fenced-off area beside the barn, and there are plenty of turtles and ducks in the river. Animal food is available for purchase in the café. The café is available for children’s parties with a separate menu.


The Henchman, Miami

Highlights: Kid’s menu, Jumping castle on Saturdays and school holidays

Crema Espresso, Pacific Fair, Broadbeach

Highlights: Located beside ‘Play Street’, takeaway available.

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‘One-sided relationship’: Food suppliers feeling pinched as grocers hike fees

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Retailers are also likely to try to negotiate the same cost reductions their competitors receive, Graydon said.

A Metro grocery store in Ottawa. David Kawai/Bloomberg

This week, for instance, United Grocers Inc. — a national procurement group that buys products for retailers such as Metro, Save-on-Foods and Circle K — told its suppliers in a letter that it would expect the same cost reductions that Walmart will receive. The letter came days after Walmart Canada asked its suppliers, on July 24, to pay an extra fee to help a five-year, $3.5-billion infrastructure upgrade. The fee will charge suppliers 1.25 per cent on the cost of goods they sell to Walmart, plus an additional five per cent on goods sold through e-commerce. Walmart says the fees are reasonable, since the investment will lead to sales growth for suppliers. The retailer stressed that the fees will only cover “a very small portion” of the $3.5 billion.

In an interview last week, Walmart Canada chief merchandizing officer Kieran Shanahan said he didn’t believe the new fee structure would widen the gap between big players and small ones in the sector.

“I disagree with that,” he said. “We think this is really fair and reasonable to share in the benefits in the growth of our investments (and) to share some of the costs of that.”

But the FCPC said retailer fees hit harder for small manufacturers, who operate on slimmer margins than multinational producers.

We think this is really fair and reasonable to share in the benefits in the growth of our investments (and) to share some of the costs of that

Kieran Shanahan, Walmart Canada chief merchandizing officer

“The small-to-medium manufacturer in this country is not making a profit. They are working at a loss,” Graydon said. “But they do have a profit plan as their volumes increase and as they get to a point where they improve efficiencies. So it might be a five-year plan.”

But when retailers add new fees, it upends the plan — making it less feasible for small producers to expand into big-box grocery stores.

“When you start on this plan, and then all of these incremental costs fall down on you, it becomes harder and harder for them to sustain,” Graydon said. “In many cases, they’re not doing business with the big guys to any great magnitude because they can’t afford to get in the door.”

Financial Post

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Roseate Hotels & Resorts heighten its luxurious offerings with “Care by Roseate” initiative – Food & Recipes

Roseate Hotels & Resorts has launched ‘Care by Roseate’ across all its properties in India & UK to gear up for the new normal.

Covid has caused a stir in every industry and the impact on the hospitality has been the greatest. These uncertain times has seen consumers turn to trusted associates and renowned brands. Roseate Hotels & Resorts is one such brand that has discovered new nuances in hospitality to give to their valued guests, unparalleled experience & utmost satisfaction keeping all the hygiene and safety standards in place.

In a bid to minimize physical contact with guests at their hotels, Roseate Hotels and Resorts has launched ‘Care by Roseate’; believably a novel approach towards instilling confidence among its customers about their safety while staying and dining at restaurants across their six properties in India and UK.

The Coronavirus Pandemic is far from over and “Touchless Hospitality” is the new future that is here to stay with us. Roseate Hotels & Resorts have completely remodelled their standard operating procedures towards providing greater care and ensuring a safe environment for their cherished guests.

Care by Roseate involves stringent procedures in place to ensure no contamination enters via any route. The measures involve thermal screening at entry gates of all passenger vehicles. Display of ‘Safe’ status in ArogyaSetu app for staff & guests and wearing of masks that be a must to enter the hotel premises. All hotel vehicles are disinfected at entry points and after every use. Sanitizers would are kept in all prominent locations within the hotel. Guest luggage is disinfected from outside on arrival. To enable seamless, remote check ins, Touchless Check ins are facilitated via app, in which all information is already be pre-registered. After check out, the same room is allocated only after 24 hours post being thoroughly disinfected.

Furthermore, Roseate Hotels & Resorts is also following an alternate room occupancy policy to maintain social distancing. Housekeeping staff would wear Personal protection Equipment(PPE). Delivery and clearance of Room Service orders would be just outside the hotel room entrance. To ensure touchless usage of elevators, a staff member in PPE would be present to operate them with not more than 3 members at a time.

Also, under this new initiative “Care By Roseate “, touchless dining is going to be paramount. Here for dining, the guest while booking a table can see the menu and order from it. The guest shares their location with the hotel so that the kitchen staffs start preparing the meal when the guest is enroute to the hotel restaurant. Guests also have an option to add more items while they are enjoying their meal. In addition the app would allow guests to see food being prepared live in the kitchen. At the end, the bill comes on the App on which it can be paid via credit cards. There would be no Buffet services for the time being.

The tables in the restaurant will be placed at a minimum two metre distance and kitchen and service staff will wear PPE (masks, gloves & other protective gear)at all times. Moreover, regular temperature checks of staff will continue to be a part of the new normal. Personnel from areas designated as hot spots will be discouraged in the hotel premises.

For their delivery services all meals will come in double layered packaging and delivered with utmost hygiene, as will be for laundry care services.

Care by Roseate would ensure that while utmost care is taken, guests will not be deprived of availing luxe fine dining and stay services. Roseate Hotels & Resorts is treating the COVID-19 with the utmost gravity and is taking every precaution to keep the guests safe.

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Disclaimer: Content Produced by Roseate Hotels

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Boudoir Lounge Sunday Brunch; A Crucible of Culture – Good Food Gold Coast

Boudoir Lounge’s Sunday degustation brunch provides a great opportunity to taste Lebanese-inspired cuisine, the food of restaurateur Harvey Gebara’s own homeland.

Inspired to share a version of a traditional Middle Eastern breakfast banquet since he opened Boudoir, six months later, after a few rocky months for all of us, it was time for Boudoir to show off its heritage in a magnificent feast bringing to the Gold Coast a culture almost as old as time.

There is no more interesting place than the one where cultures meet. Lebanon is such a place. Referred to as ‘a pearl of the Middle East’, Lebanon sits in the middle of the Eastern arc of the Mediterranean, a trader’s thoroughfare and crucible of cultures due to its various historical rulers.

Lebanese cuisine is among the healthiest in the world, using an abundance of legumes and whole grains, fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and seafood. Yet the diversity of its dishes is not readily known in Australia.

Chef Matija Stefancic (ex-Park Royal, Melbourne and Café Diversity, Redcliffe) presents Sunday brunch at Boudoir, a fusion of diverse flavours for a Gold Coast audience.

“I wanted to create a bridge between traditional Middle Eastern culture and dishes already known to Gold Coast diners,” Chef Mat tells us.

Five courses and a cocktail exit the kitchen in procession, each dish a complex combination of exotic and known, historically old yet boldly experimental.

From Fatteh served as an entrée on a wafer of fried bread and delicate cucumber-lined Salmon Tarator sandwiches well suited to an English garden party to Egyptian Mess, a vegan version of Eton Mess complete with banana raisin bread, meringue and whipped ‘cream’, coulis and almond praline, we are treated to a feast. Half the dishes are vegan, and as many gluten-free.

Chef Mat brings us exotic flavours in forms we recognise yet with his own twist. ‘Benedict’ is served on a falafel waffle with tahini spinach, Aleppo pepper, hollandaise and a slice of air-dried pastirma beef, and the risotto-like Mushroom Hrisseh, a bulgur porridge, champions king brown mushrooms, watercress and vegan truffle ‘milk’.

One of our favourite dishes is Harvey’s Famous Lebanese Toast, a version of bread and butter pudding with eggy bread dressed up with lemon curd, a top knot of rosewater meringue, pistachio ice cream and berries.

In a venue where honour is given to heritage and the signature cocktail named after Harvey’s 113-year-old grandmother, Boudoir Lounge brings us an exotic take on breakfast, indulging our sense of adventure when otherwise we might not be travelling far from home.

Boudoir Lounge, 410/1 Como Crescent, Southport Ph: 07 5528 1104

The Boudoir Brunch commences service to the public each Sunday morning (dependant on bookings) from Sunday 2nd August 2020 with two seatings available at 8.00am – 10.00am or 10.30am – 12.30pm. Bookings are essential and tickets can be purchased on 07 5528 1104 or

Four course Degustation experience

· $59 pp including one complimentary coffee or tea

· $69pp including The Lady Marmalade cocktail

· $99pp with bottomless The Lady Marmalade or Mimosas.

NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of Boudoir Lounge. Bookings are essential. (One photo credited to Boudoir Lounge.)

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Nostimo Restaurant Bar – Good Food Gold Coast

Greek tavernas conjure up memories of good times and a free-ranging lifestyle under blue and white stucco walls and awnings, wine in our hands, the table spread with dips and flatbread, Greek salad and fresh grilled seafood.

Standing Acropolis-like on top of the hill, The Greek Club has always been the epitome of all things Hellenic, the place where Greek culture is represented in Brisbane.

To be sure, when we dine there we’re not sitting in a bar on Santorini, but in a pristine inner-city dining room. 15,000 worry beads hang from the ceiling of the function room beside us, city towers peek out from behind the greenery of Musgrave Park, but the food of Nostimo (which means ‘tasty’ or ‘delicious’ in Greek) brings back memories of Greek islands that we can now only dream of revisiting.

From 2018, when The Greek Club relaunched following a $3 million refurbishment, Nostimo was founded under the guidance of internationally acclaimed Chef in Residence David Tsirekas.

Nostimo’s menu gained sophistication and a firm grounding in the historical context of Greek cuisine due to David Tsirekas’ inimitable knowledge of Hellenic culinary history. The menu is designed to take us on a journey through the flavours and traditions of the Hellenes through the ages, unique culturally and regionally grounded dishes designed to be shared with family and friends.

Though Chef David Tsirekas was not present when we dined, the kitchen was in the very capable hands of Head Chef Adam Carpenter who has been with The Greek Club for twelve years.

Food and nostalgia are intertwined, the ‘Old School’ section of Nostimo’s menu even more so, showing off favourite traditional dishes.

On a rainy winter’s day, we begin our lunchtime meal with hearty starters from the Horiatiko menu: Wild green filo triangles that one could imagine being made from foraged greens (Hortopitakia) served with a smoky eggplant garnish, Slow braised giant beans on a rich tomato sauce with toasted bread (Gigantes), and the crowd pleaser, a contemporary Seafood platter for two abundant in tender calamari, octopus, Kataifi prawns and tarama.

Casting no aspersions on previous dishes, no visit to a Greek restaurant would be complete without lamb, and in Nostimo’s case it’s Lamb Skaras: Sovereign Hill lamb, braised for eight hours, then cooked on the charcoal grill with paprika, oregano and garlic for a smoky finish and served on a bed of wilted spinach with herbed yoghurt; it’s melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and flavour puts it among the best lamb I have eaten. It’s unmissable!

For dessert, we enjoy a delicious Greek version of a bread and butter pudding made with tsoureki and served warm with Metaxa-laced custard and Maraschino cherries, the recipe created by Chef Eamon Barnes. Delicious and light, this dessert would be perfect with a Greek coffee.

We’ll have to return to try the signature Pork Belly Baklava, roasted pork belly layered with filo pastry, date and pistachio and pork crackling with a date, mustard and mastiha sauce. A modern dish rooted in old favourites, it’s bound to create its own memories!

Nostimo is fully licensed with craft beer on tap, Greek beer and wine, spirits and classic cocktails. There’s a children’s menu that includes calamari, chicken or lamb with chips, pita bread and salad. Bookings are essential.

Nostimo Restaurant Bar, 29 Edmondstone Street, South Brisbane Ph: 07 3844 1166

Open: Lunch Wed – Sat 11.30 – 2.30; Dinner Wed – Sat 5pm – 9/9.30pm

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COVID-19 pandemic has affected food security and sustainability

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says that COVID-19 could seriously impact the world’s food security as it affects both supply and demand.

There is a greater concern the pandemic will cause a global recession and that millions of people worldwide will suffer from chronic hunger and a loss of livelihood. While the situation in Australia isn’t that dire, we have seen our share of panic buying, purchasing restrictions and business closures. These patterns could ver well return in the near future, especially in Victoria.

But there’s one outcome of COVID-19 that was unexpected: people are showing an interest in becoming more food self-sufficient and it coincided with the lockdowns. It appears the pandemic has made people turn to self-sufficiency and sustainability to compensate for supply shortages.

My investigation starts with Brisbane resident Jourdain Hiini who has been practicing a type of self-sufficiency know as permaculture on his suburban property for twenty years. Permaculture uses a whole-system design approach to create sustainable food networks and can be implemented on a small, agricultural, or metropolitan scale. Permaculture is a common technique for increasing food self-sufficiency.

Hiini is a chef, with a self-described “green thumb” and a passion for permaculture. He first became interested in this method at twelve when he watched an SBS documentary by Bill Mollison about urban permaculture.

Hiini said:

“It really resonated with me. My mum had always grown vegetables at home and my best friend next door… had a mini farm in their backyard as well. It just made sense to me, even at that age.”

He also visits the Northey Street City Farm, a permaculture demonstration site located on a floodplain, five minutes away from the city centre.

Northey Street Farm was created as an open green space that educates the public about permaculture and sustainability. Hiini says he is “very lucky” to have this demonstration site so close to home.

As a dedicated member of the Brisbane permaculture community, Hiini has noticed people showing more interest in permaculture since the COVID-19 lockdowns came into effect.

Compassion got us through bushfire crisis, as it will coronavirus

Hiini describes “a huge increase” in the number of people participating in online and social media groups:

“The groups I belong to have so many people asking for advice and ideas.”

He goes on to say that the increasing interest isn’t restricted to the online world:

“A lot of my friends as well have been asking me for advice. People who have never grown anything in their lives.”

When I ask what he thinks the reason is for this increased interest, his answer is clear:

“I think seeing the shelves bare at Coles and Woolworths caused a lot to realise how fragile our food supply is. Permaculture offered them a solution that gives them the tools to be more self-sufficient.”

This growing interest in sustainability appears to be nationwide. I found the same trends were being observed in Western Australia as well.

Permaculture expert and WA resident Charles Otway says he has also seen an increasing interest in the field since the isolation started.

Otway is very experienced with permaculture, having practiced it for more than fifteen years. Today, Otway owns a farm in Pemberton, where he runs his permaculture business Terra Perma Design. Since the onset of COVID-19, Otway says online permaculture Facebook groups such as Permaculture Perth have recently doubled in size. He describes this as “a process that may have taken ten years otherwise”

The shortage of goods during COVID-19 recalls the 'tea panic' of 1942

Otway believes the panic buying sparked this interest:

“I guess what COVID has done is make people realise where food comes from and the dangers of the scarcity of food in a supermarket. If everyone goes in it disappears quickly.”

Otway believes permaculture gives a sense of self-sufficiency, “because permaculture is all about homesteading, growing your own food and storing your own food”. he says.

He smiles and adds:

“And being sensitive to the needs of being in lockdown, I think a lot of people have seen it as need, not a want or a hobby.”

With seeing the obvious rise in interest, I was starting to wonder how places that are already self-sufficient are handling the pandemic. That’s why I decided to speak with the Director of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, Jake Claro, about his experience with the COVID-19 disruptions.

Claro describes the situation in Vermont, U.S., as “sort of odd”, saying “it feels like we’re in a bubble”. He says the state of the Vermont food system is “very good” even with the impacts of coronavirus on their business and agricultural sectors and attributes this stability to the Farm to Plate Network.

Australia's selfish society needs a reality check

The Farm to Plate Network was first developed over a decade ago with the goal of creating a resilient and sustainable localised food system that supported the Vermont community.  Farmers involved in the network produce and distribute their own healthy, sustainably grown food to the wider community and provide employment in the food and farming sector of Vermont through the linked Sustainable Jobs Fund.

One of the more important aspects of the Farm to Plate Network is the relationship between the community and the small businesses that grow and supply a diverse range of agricultural products.

Claro explains how those relationships have been important for the community through the COVID-19 crisis.

He says:

“Certainly, the Farm to Plate Network that we have built over the last decade has made these relationships a lot stronger. I think our local food system has shown a level of response and flexibility in these circumstances to adapt and adapt quite quickly.”

That’s not to say that Vermont hasn’t been affected at all by COVID-19. Claro describes how large retail stores have experienced shortages and simplified their supply chains. He looks disappointed when he describes how their restaurant industry has been impacted.

Claro remarks:

“There are projections saying that anywhere between 25-50% of restaurants that have closed because of COVID will stay closed. It’s something that we’re concerned about and supporting them in this difficult time.”

But the greatest impact has been on the conventional dairy industry. Claro explains that dairy is an important business in Vermont and with the loss of school, institutional, and restaurant sales, dairy producers have taken a substantial hit. “It was an industry that was already facing a lot of challenges, and then this demand shortage just further compounded a lot of those factors”.

Luckily, there’s a COVID-19 state relief bill that will hopefully help the dairy industry cope through these uncertain times.

During times of disaster, the human spirit prevails

Claro was meant to visit Western Australia earlier this year to speak about his experiences with establishing Farm to Plate at the Great Southern Food for Thought Festival (FFTF), which was postponed because of the lockdown.

FFTF was created in 2015 to support the transition of the WA food system towards one that is “regenerative, fair, inspirational and democratic”, says the event’s creator Evelyn Lee Collin.

Every year, Food for Thought promotes and celebrates regional WA food culture and increases the community’s awareness of food security and localised food systems.

In light of the objectives of FFTF, I asked Collin what her thoughts on the COVID-19 supply chain disruptions are.

She told IA: 

“Transport interruptions highlight how important localised food systems are. The case for food system change has been urgent and overwhelming for many, many years now. I hope the COVID-19 pandemic will galvanise broad community support.”

Collin sees the role of Food for Thought as being impactful on the community and she is devoted to the cause. “I know my work contributes to a better world. That makes me feel inspired and energised everyday”, she says.

I find myself wondering what the future of the Australian food system will look like after the disruptions of COVID-19. The growing interest in food self-sufficiency and local food networks is inspiring to see.

Perhaps, the pandemic will create a transition towards a supportive and communal food system, like those practiced in Vermont and epitomised in the Food for Thought Festival.

Eleanor Beidatsch is a disability and environmental rights activist, and a science journalist. 

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Wool packaging could replace plastic for sustainable thermal food packaging

If you order a food produce box, or home meal delivery, chances are it will come in an expanded polystyrene [EPS] box.

Wool, however, is increasingly being used as alternative thermal packaging for food and pharmaceutical products.

Joanne Howarth is the CEO and founder of Planet Protector Packaging, an Australian company creating wool thermal packaging.

“Just as the wool keeps the sheep warm in winter, so too it keeps them cool in summer,” she said.

“Essentially, we’ve leveraged the thermal properties of wool.”

A women in a high visibility vest and arms crossed smiles at the camera. She is standing in a factory.
Joanne Howarth said the wool used in her product was otherwise destined for landfill.(Supplied: Planet Protector Packaging)

New use for lower quality wool

The product has been made from the various offcuts of a sheep’s fleece, usually discarded, and has then been wrapped in either a recyclable or compostable film.

“That sort of wool comes more from crossbred sheep.”

For the wool industry, thermal packaging presents another market opening.

Wool Producers Australia CEO, Jo Hall, said the lower quality cuts were usually blended with other types of wool.

“To have a defined use for those sorts of low-quality wools is a really good outcome,” she said.

“We would hope that it would increase demand [of offcuts] and maybe have an impact on price.”

A sheep stands in a paddock in the South Australian town of Keyneton.
Wool from the underbelly or crutch of the sheep is generally considered to be lower quality.(ABC Rural: Tom Nancarrow)

An alternative to plastic packaging?

Wool may seem like a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging but there is some work involved in making it a planet-friendly option.

Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council [NWRIC], said there were currently no systems to collect and recycle wool, although it is compostable.

“At this stage, those materials either go to landfill or potentially can be used as an energy source,” she said.

A woman smiles at the camera.
Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council.(Supplied: Rose Read)

If wool fibre cannot currently be recycled, then how does it compare to EPS thermal packaging?

Ms Read said EPS was recyclable but only if clean — which often cut out food packaging.

flat laid packets of meal ingredients
Home food delivery and meal kits have grown increasingly popular during the pandemic, but often involve increased packaging.(Supplied: Connie Attard)

It could only be recycled if it was collected separately, so usually only by businesses.

“Currently there is no household recycling system for either EPS or wool,” Ms Read said.

“EPS is often only single use and doesn’t degrade when it gets out into the environment, whereas wool generally is a multi-use item as a material and can biodegrade in the environment, being a natural fibre.

“The issue when making packaging from wool is what are the materials or additives that impact its ability to be composted?”

A square of wool packaging on a production line, about to be wrapped in a film.
This packaging is wrapped in either a compostable or recyclable HDPE film.(Supplied: Planet Protector Packaging)

Ms Read said another factor to consider was the source of the packaging.

“Wool is a more renewable resource … whereas expanded polystyrene is a fossil fuel-based thing which takes millions of years to produce,” she said.

“Only 12 per cent of plastics overall are recycled.”

How can sustainability be achieved in reality?

Ms Howarth has established a circular economy with the wool packaging where possible.

A polystyrene meal container.
Polystyrene foam, popular with takeaway and home-delivery foods, is a derivative of polystyrene, known as styrofoam or expanded polystyrene.(ABC News: Hannah Walmsley)

“[Some clients] can pick up from the customers doorstep the wrapping and the packaging and bring it back, then it is able to go through the whole process yet again,” she said.

“For those clients that aren’t able to recover it, then we work with them on educating the end user … about how they should handle it at the end of life.”

Ms Read said that the NWRIC advocates for produce stewardship.

“That includes those companies that make packaging to take responsibility for not only the environmental impacts in designing, making, and using the packaging, but also what happens at end of life,” she said.

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Boris’s junk food ad ban a ‘slap in the face’ for food industry’ after coronavirus heroics

Banning junk food advertising was today branded a ‘slap in the face’ for Britain’s food and drink industry after its hard work to keep the nation fed during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Producers and advertising industry figures warned that jobs could be at risk as it was revealed Boris Johnson is considering taking drastic steps to curb the UK’s obesity problem.

Ministers are said to support moves to ban junk food adverts from TV before the 9pm watershed and outlaw online ads altogether. 

Retail and advertising executives have been told the plans will include a ban on TV ads for junk food such as burgers and chocolate before 9pm. A ban on online adverts is also expected, as are restrictions on buy-one-get-one-free supermarket deals.  

But the industry hit back at the plans, saying the move was not necessary.  

Tim Rycroft, chief operating officer of the Food and Drink Federation, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘If these rumours are true the Government is about to deliver a slap in the face to the food industry which has worked so heroically over the last four months to keep the nation fed at some considerable risk to itself.

 The Prime Minister (pictured today at a London medical centre)  is set to unveil a new anti-obesity strategy next week after being warned that his weight may have contributed to his brush with death when he contracted coronavirus this year

Tam Fry

Stephen Woodford

Stephen Woodford (right), chief executive of the Advertising Association, said the UK already had the ‘the strictest rules in the world on advertising’ high fat and salty foods. And Tam Fry (left), of the National Obesity Forum, told the BBC’s Today Programme Boris Johnson’s ‘|experience in St Thomas’s Hospital was a real game changer’

Boris Johnson in his running gear in Downing Street in May. He is said to have been shocked by the impact his weight had on his fight with coronavirus

Boris Johnson in his running gear in Downing Street in May. He is said to have been shocked by the impact his weight had on his fight with coronavirus

PM’s coronavirus journey from food freedom champion to obesity clampdown

Mr Johnson was long a libertarian on eating and drinking, speaking out against efforts by Jamie Oliver to reform school meals. 

But he appears to have undergone a more interventionalist conversion since his illness in the spring.

He first hit the headline son the subject in 2006 when he lashed out at Jamie Oliver over the celebrity chef’s attempts to reform school meals. 

Then a junior shadow minister he garnered headlines by criticising Mr Oliver’s efforts at one school which resulted in parents giving their children pies through the fence.

At a fringe event at the 2006 Conservative Party conference he told a fringe event: ‘if I was in charge I would get rid of Jamie Oliver and tell people to eat what they like’.

He later added: ‘I say let people eat what they like. Why shouldn’t they push pies through the railings?’.

He went on to say: ‘I would ban sweets from school – but this pressure to bring in healthy food is too much.’

He later denied criticising Mr Oliver, calling him a ‘saint’.

Last summer he declared war on ‘sin taxes’ on sugary and fatty foods – as he warns they hit the poorest with higher bills.

During his Tory leadership campaign he promised to review Theresa May’s flagship sugar tax on fizzy drinks. He also vowed to freeze new taxes on HFSS foods and argued those who want to lose weight should just exercise more.

But his hospitalisation with coronavirus is believed to have shocked him into a change of heart.

Earlier this month he admitted that he had taken a ‘very libertarian stance’ in the past but stressed that the effects of obesity cannot be ‘ignored’. 

‘Compare I’m afraid this wonderful country of ours to other European countries, we are significantly fatter than most others – apart from the Maltese for some reason,’ he said.

‘It is an issue…. Everybody knows that this is a tough one.’

Mr Johnson added: ‘I think it matters and I don’t think politicians can treat is as irrelevant.’

Mr Johnson has been spotted in recent weeks running in London – including at Buckingham Palace, and in an interview with the Mail on Sunday he declared he was ‘as fit as a butcher’s dog’ before doing press-ups in his office.

‘It is going to ban promotions of food ten days before the Chancellor launches the biggest food promotion the food proportion the country has ever seen.

‘It is going to put enormous costs on the advertising industry and on broadcasters at a time when the economy is in quite a tenuous situation.’ 

The Prime Minister is set to unveil a new anti-obesity strategy next week after being warned that his weight may have contributed to his brush with death when he himself contracted coronavirus this year. 

He has previously spoken out against curbs on junk food. In 2006, as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver campaigned on improving school meals, he told the Conservative Party Conference: ‘If I was in charge I would get rid of Jamie Oliver and tell people to eat what they like … why shouldn’t they push pies through the railings?’

But an anti-obesity campaigner suggested his own illness had changed his mind.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, told the BBC’s Today Programme: ‘I think his experience in St Thomas’s Hospital was a real game changer and I believe this was the reason why he has suddenly become  so involved in curing obesity.

‘He knows full well his weight was a great problem when they came to treat him.’

Asked about the plans today, Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m not normally a believer in nannying… type of politics.

‘Losing weight is, frankly, one of the ways that you can reduce your own risks from Covid.’ 

Stephen Woodford, chief executive of the Advertising Association, said the UK already had the ‘the strictest rules in the world on advertising’ high fat and salty foods.

‘They limit exposure of the under 16s to advertising, so particularly when it affects children they are seeing much less advertising from this sort of food,’ he told Times Radio.

‘Actually the evidence is pretty weak for the direct connection between advertising and obesity levels. When you look around the world … (marketing agency) McKinsey did a huge study that looked at all the different factors (and) I think it was 14th on the list of factors that affects obesity levels both in children and adults.

‘There are many more effective measures to control obesity and to reduce obesity.

‘It’s quite easy to call for something that is the most visible to be reduced or restricted – it is already heavily restricted and further restrictions won’t do the trick.’

The Prime Minister has ruled out introducing new ‘sin taxes’ such as the sugar tax on soft drinks. But he is considering new labelling laws designed to make it much easier for people to avoid products that are high in fat and salt.

Mr Johnson is also expected to launch a major drive to encourage people to walk and cycle, with millions poured into building new bike lanes.

Obesity is a major risk factor in coronavirus patients, with the overweight much more likely to need hospital treatment or even die. Diabetes is also known to be a major risk.

Boris reveals post-Covid weight-loss

Boris Johnson revealed he has lost more than a stone in weight since his coronavirus scare today as he urged Britis to join him in getting fit this summer to ward off the worst of the disease.

The Prime Minister urged podgy Brits to shed the pounds, with studies showing that being overweight makes the illness far worse.

Mr Johnson spent a week in intensive care in May after coming down with coronavirus and is believed to have been shocked that his weight may have played a part in the seriousness of his condition.

Speaking on a visit to a London health centre today to encourage uptake of the winter flu jab the PM, who has been photographed running since his return to Downing Street, told reporters:  ‘I’m on the way, I’ve lost about a stone and a bit.

‘Primarily by eating less, but also by a lot of exercise.’

He declined to give further details of his weight loss regimen. 

Obesity has been flagged as a major risk factor for coronavirus, with researchers finding that obese people have a 37 per cent higher risk of dying from it. One in four Britons is obese.    

The Prime Minister, who is now on a diet, is said to have been shocked that his own 17-stone weight may have put him in intensive care when he contracted Covid-19.

He is said to be ‘obsessed’ with the issue, telling aides: ‘It’s all right for you thinnies.’ The PM, who was previously sceptical of ‘nanny state’ interventions on obesity, has now ruled that a war on weight must be launched this summer to help people slim down before a possible second wave of the virus this winter.

Last month he said: ‘We will be happier, fitter and more resistant to diseases like Covid if we can tackle obesity.’

But any move is likely to be controversial – and would deal a serious blow to commercial broadcasters already hit by a dramatic fall in revenue this year as a result of the recession sparked by the lockdown.

Downing Street declined to comment last night. This morning Social Care Minister Helen Whateley declined to comment on a leak.

But she told BBC Breakfast: ‘Half of adults are overweight, one in five children leaving primary school are obese and obesity brings with it a whole host of health challenges.

‘Very particularly with Covid you’re at greater risk of getting Covid, greater risk of complications, greater risk – very sadly – of dying from Covid, if you are overweight.’

She added: ‘As it is such an important health challenge we have to take it on and the Prime Minister is committed to making sure we tackle obesity.’

Last month, Mr Johnson said politicians cannot treat obesity as ‘irrelevant’ and that the issue is ‘hugely costly for the NHS’.

He told Times Radio that the UK was ‘significantly fatter’ than most European countries, and added: ‘We certainly must have a care for the health of our population and we will be happier and fitter and more resistant to diseases like Covid if we can tackle obesity.

Boris Johnson in 2006

Jamie Oliver

In 2006, when he was shadow higher education minister, Mr Johnson hit out at Jamie Oliver’s campaign for healthier school meals, telling the Tory party conference: ‘If I was in charge I would get rid of Jamie Oliver and tell people to eat what they like.’

Retail and advertising executives have been told the plans will include a ban on TV ads for junk food such as burgers and chocolate before 9pm (file image)

Retail and advertising executives have been told the plans will include a ban on TV ads for junk food such as burgers and chocolate before 9pm (file image)

 Mr Fry added that the reported measures around junk food advertising were ‘not enough’ and they ‘may have an impact but will not be the answer you need to have an across-the-board approach to everything in life which affects obesity’.

The chairman of the National Obesity Forum added: ‘All Boris Johnson has done at the moment is identify two or three areas where he thinks that he probably will have the quickest return.’

Mr Fry said he hopes ‘the penny has dropped’ about the importance of tackling obesity.

He explained: ‘My hope is that this is the epiphany moment of the Government to do something positive which will have a real effect on both the nation’s health and individual obesity.’

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