Feature

Talking produce with Matt Stone

G-Online

He's the talented head chef of Perth's Greenhouse by Joost restaurant, and when it comes to eating sustainably, has plenty of opinion. Read on for the edible ethics of Matt Stone.

Matt-Stone-Story

Matt Stone from Greenhouse by Joost.

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"In Australia, we're so lucky that we can grow and produce pretty much anything from a juicy mango, to a truffle, to amazing beef or seafood - so we're surrounded by great fresh produce to cook. Even in suburban Australia, most backyards have a lemon tree, sometimes a herb garden, or tomatoes. You can grow enough potatoes in a tiny corner of your garden to feed your family year round.

"Obviously not everyone has a lot of space, but that's where the community really comes into it. Say, if you're growing tomatoes and your neighbour is growing capsicums you can do a swap. That happens in Europe, but it hasn't really happened in Australia yet.

"Personally, I think it's really important to eat balanced, healthy meals. I don't find it's important to have to eat meat very often, I think our bodies aren't designed for that. I love using grains like quinoa and freeka (see below) that are really substantial, healthy and tasty. You can have them as salads a couple of times a week tossed together with roasted vegetables and things like that.

"Unfortunately, there are a lot of farmers who have been contracted by the giant supermarkets and they then get really regulated in what they can grow. A farmer might be growing one crop for five or six years to supply these big chains, but inevitably it's just going to be their downfall because if they're just growing one crop on their land, they're going to destroy their soil by taking too many of certain minerals, vitamins and nutrients out of it, and then all they're left with is dead soil that they can't grow anything else in.

"One of the biggest issues that concerns me is the value that farmers get for their products. Say, if a dairy farmer sells their milk to a big company for say 40 cents a litre, but then it's sold for $3 a litre - I'm more than happy to pay that price if it's come from a farmer that cares for their cows and has put a lot of effort into producing the product, but in the mass-produced world, those guys don't have a passion for their product. I think the farmers and the producers need to be looked after a whole lot more because currently a lot of them are being driven out of the industry.

"Supporting local farmers markets, little green-grocers, smaller butcher's shops and even the smaller independent supermarkets is certainly a better way to buy food than the mass-produced stuff.

"I think it's good if people can try different things at farmer's markets to break the mentality of going to the supermarket and buying the same things that are always there. If people put more effort into understanding where their food comes from, they'll develop a whole lot more respect for it, and the farmers and producers will be getting what they deserve. Then, it will be a lot more enticing for more good people to move into the agricultural industry."

Freeka salad

"Freeka is green wheat that originated from the middle east, and it's awesome. The first time I tried it was in a salad one day and I instantly loved it! We source it from Eden Valley in the wheatbelt. The best ways to use it are in a salad in a similar way to cous cous, and it also works with a Moroccan tajine. I really love it simply as a salad because it's got a really nice chewy texture to it, a lovely flavour, and it carries a dressing really well."

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Check out the current Dec/Jan issue of Green Lifestyle magazine for more profiles of green chefs from around Australia.

Click on these links to read our interviews with more green chefs – Jared Ingersoll from Danks Street Depot, and Troy Spencer & Oliver Guthrie from Spencer Guthrie.