Feature

Green foodies

Green Lifestyle magazine

The impact on our environment, wellbeing and future, of what we eat each and every day has never been more relevant than it is today. These foodies talk about why they advocate more mindful, healthier and sustainable eating.

janella-story

Janella Purcell, Naturopath & TV chef.

Jo Watmore

Jo Watmore, volunteer cook on the Sea Shepherd.

Shanaka Fernando

Shanaka Fernando, Lentil As Anything, Melbourne.

Yukako Ichikawa

Yukako Ichikawa, Wafu, Sydney.

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Janella Purcell, Naturopath & TV chef

“All food should be as close to the way nature made it as possible, and available to all. I advocate SLOW eating and cooking – Seasonal, Local, Organic and Whole.

“I cook with simple techniques without the use of any man-made toxic chemicals, preferably vegan, and usually vegetarian; although I sometimes use sustainably caught seafood and organic goats cheese in my recipes – this is less and less however. In a nutshell, I think there’s nothing good about man-made chemicals, industrial farming or GMO food. Nothing!

“I eat the way I encourage others to – animal free if you can and slow. For my own meals, I think about what protein (tempeh, tofu, legume) I will add, what dark leafy green (kale, rocket, baby spinach, herbs), oil (coconut, olive, flax, chia) and vegie (pumpkin, carrots, broccoli, and so on) and go from there. I will usually add a strong anti-inflammatory like turmeric or ginger. I’m in love with turmeric at the moment; it’s estrogenic, a strong anti-inflammatory, an antioxidant, has a wonderful effect on the liver, and one serving a week has been proven to reduce your chances of getting Alzheimer’s by 50 per cent.

“Americans waste half their food and we’re not far behind in Australia. Wasting food is disrespecting it, the earth, the farmers and everyone and everything it took to get it on your plate. Chefs are terrible contributors to food wastage. Working in restaurants or worse – on cooking shows – for this reason breaks my heart. Other chefs think I’m weird when I save vegie scraps for stock, keep a lemon with one wedge out for juice or zest for the next recipe, freeze leftover seafood and recycle containers.

“I wrote my most recent book Janella’s Wholefood Kitchen because my last book Eating For The Seasons was so embraced and loved that I knew there was a need for more dairy-free, vego, vegan and raw food recipes. Many of us want to eat well but just don’t know how. It’s my mission to teach as many people as I can how to eat gorgeous, healthy food without doing harm to our planet or ourselves. It’s just not necessary to add a big blob of conventionally produced butter, cream or bacon to get a fantastic risotto for example.”

Janella's pumpkin hummus with turmeric & coriander:
"To your basic hummus recipe add 1 cup steamed or baked pumpkin (seeds and skin removed) add 1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric and a handful of fresh coriander. Use lime instead of lemon if you like. Heavenly!"

Jo Watmore, The Sea Shepherd

“The only kind of cooking and eating I can advocate is vegan. I believe that in the western society there are no excuses anymore for living on a diet of animal protein. It’s just not necessary to eat meat.

“Animals are now mass produced in factory farms without any regard for their wellbeing. People have no connection to what they put into their bodies anymore, from both an ethical and a health point of view. From every angle I look at it whether it is animal cruelty, environmentalism or health, I believe the only way to eat should be vegan.

“What most concerns me in society today is the sheer amounts of meat, fish, dairy and eggs that the human population consumes. There’s simply too much land taken up farming crops to feed the animals that feed such a small percentage of us. Two-thirds of all agricultural land is used to feed livestock, whereas only eight per cent is used to directly feed humans. I also think there is no such thing as ‘sustainable’ fishing; a third of fish caught in the oceans is fed to livestock, and most of the world’s fisheries have either now collapsed or are on the verge of collapsing.

“I have volunteered as a cook on both the Brigitte Bardot and the Bob Barker Sea Shepherd vessels and have been a crew member since September last year. The best examples I’ve seen of people really respecting what they eat is while the Sea Shepherd ships are in Antarctica for three months. Unlike the other Sea Shepherd campaigns, the ships may not see land for this entire time, so the food has to last. When we spend weeks at sea, getting thrown around in storms, spending endless hours on watches searching for the whaling ships, the highlight of our day is often what is for lunch or dinner. Food is such an important part of the morale of the crew. When the food is good it helps to give the crew energy and motivation to keep going, no matter how tough it gets.

“Not everyone that comes on board the ship is vegan, or has even considered veganism before, so it’s nice to be able to share delicious food with them that doesn’t destroy the oceans and harm the planet.”

Jo's vegan mayo:
"Put 1 cup vegetable oil, ½ cup soy milk, a pinch of mustard powder, salt and pepper in a blender. Very slowly increase the speed, but keep on low for about 10–15 seconds, until it thickens. Turn off and add a few tablespoons of either apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Blend until it thickens further, then you can serve it as it is or modify."

Shanaka Fernando, Lentil As Anything, Melbourne

“I started the Lentil As Anything restaurant in 2000, and although I’m not a chef or a cook, I know the importance of people being able to eat a nutritious meal, and money not being as important, which is why people only pay what they feel it’s worth at Lentil.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about food; one is that people think it’s hard to turn fresh produce into a very nice meal. As a result, they’re buying ready-made meals from supermarkets, when in fact, I think people would be surprised when they learn how easy it is, and probably quicker to put together a locally-grown, rich, fresh produce meal.

“I think people eat for comfort, and to replace emotions, which can be such a dangerous thing because people might be prone to overeating and using food as a stimulant. I believe there’s a wonderful and exciting adventure to be had with the consumption of food – for example in the discovery of the simple variation that food procured from the same patch may have – if one is willing to slow oneself down and just focus on the subtle differences and nuances that food has.

“I think we reach out too much for complexity and foods that have exotic ingredients. I know there’s a push to get ‘superfoods’ from the Brazilian rainforests and the Amazon – there’s quite a culture associated around these kinds of fads that can ultimately be quite detrimental to food security.

“People truly respect food when they are inherently connected with their environment and take ownership of it, and that’s really something I think the culture of money has fractured in society. We have a confused sense of values at the moment; people think surrounding themselves with technologically superior implements buys a status or a certain quality of life, but I just don’t think that’s true.

“I focus on getting people from all cultures to bring their differences into our kitchen, so we have people from around the world that bring the great aspects of their cuisine culture into Lentil As Anything so that everyone can learn about it. There’s great benefits in not just the physical nutrition of food, but psychological nourishment as well, which I believe is what happens when people from all walks of life can sit together and eat.”

Shanaka's Sri Lankan dahl:
"Dry fry 1 tablespoon of mustard seeds until they pop. Add 1 tablespoon of oil (on a low flame), 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves, 1 chopped red onion, a touch of salt, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon dried chilli pieces, 1 small diced tomato, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and sauté for 5 mins. Add 250 g of red lentils and stir till the lentils are coated in mix. Add 1 can of coconut cream and cook on a low heat till lentils are soft. Best eaten with rice, roti and badly scratched Elvis records (as I did)!"

Yukako Ichikawa, Wafu, Sydney

“Three things happened to me about 15 years ago that really changed the way I looked at cooking and eating food – all almost in the space of a few months.

“The first, is that some of my customers developed coeliac disease, but at the time no one knew about that, and so I thought, well I have to create special food for them; and I realised that if I used some special items I could make special food that’s good for them, so they kept coming back to eat my food. Also, around the same time one of my young staff at just 19 years old found out that she had a very serious allergy to MSG, and she lost lots of weight, so I cooked specially for her too. And the third one is that I was watching a family eat at one of my tables, and when the child went to eat something, the mother hit it away from her mouth – at first I couldn’t understand, but then the mother explained that the child could not eat that food because of an allergy. I realised that what this would mean that when that child would grow up, they would not enjoy eating or food very much. But enjoying the right food the right way is very important throughout our lives.
“I could relate to this very much because when I was growing up, I could be a very naughty girl. My mum was a little bit strict, so I had to eat the right way, or else I would be in trouble. If I didn’t want to eat something, I would make an excuse to my mum, but instead of accepting this excuse, my mother would straight away take the whole meal away from me. This is because my mother knew it was important to respect all the food that was put in front of me – but of course I didn’t see that was the reason why she did that when I was a little girl.

“What I notice in my customers is that food habits are very important. We need to think about things like how much we’re eating, how we’re chewing our food. Many people think about quick solutions – they often eat too quickly, and don’t understand that sometimes that can damage their stomach. Chewing food properly is very important as it means we can use our immune system properly – saliva is very strong, stronger than many medicines, and it is our bodies’ first defence. Mental stress of course makes our body stressed, but also many people don’t realise that food can also sometimes make us stressed, because we use energy to digest it. The best way is to chew each mouthful at least 30 times. Also, overeating is a stress for our body – but we have to be careful, because we know wasted food is also a problem.”

Yukako's brown rice:
"Not many people know because brown rice is a seed that it needs to be soaked overnight before eating, otherwise it causes damage to our stomach. Just soak in cold water for at least 12 hours, rinse, and cook with the absorption method."