While the health craze mightn’t have mushroomed on the Central Coast quite as rapidly as it has in Sydney and other parts of the country, there is a tribe of big-hearted, health-conscious and clean-living women ensuring that locals don’t have to go far to access organic fruit and vegetables.
In fact, they’ll deliver it right to your door.
Yet, for these Coastie businesses, it’s not about the money. For Sonia Romeyn and Janine Ravenwood, who run Nurtured Earth Organics, their love of green lies solely with vegetables, not banknotes.
One of the reasons Sonia started the business a decade ago was to be able to sustainably provide organic food to her growing family.
“I wanted to feed my family well, with the least toxins,” the North Avoca mother-of-three said.
Her business partner Janine also turned to organic food after having her two sons.
“Now I can choose the best possible food out there for my family,” she said.
Sipping hot lemon tea, made from a lemon plucked off one of the trees at Janine’s tropical Macmasters property, it’s clear that the pair practice what they preach and are passionate about providing a healthy option to local families.
Their Nurtured Earth business delivers boxes of organic fruit, vegetables, nuts, and even shampoo and washing powder, to dozens of homes on the Coast each week including the odd donation to a family in need.
As Coasties’ appetite grows for organic fare, they are continually adding new products like fresh almond milk, sauerkraut and Australian grown chia and quinoa.
While a lot of things aren’t sourced from the Coast, there is a handful of local products including some citrus and avocados from Meliora farm at Peats Ridge, greens from Greengate Garden in Killcare, Loo Loo’s coffee, coconut wraps from Jimalie, an organic skin care range and the odd pumpkin or tangelo from Justine’s own backyard orchard and farm.
Owner of Organics2You Amanda Delalat started her business to educate Coasties about food and nutrition.
“People don’t know what’s going on with their food. We’re consuming so many more pesticides and herbicides. If we all went back to cooking wholefoods like our grandparents it would make so much difference,” the Bensville mother-of-two said.
Her health kick began after suffering from adrenal fatigue.
Now, she can’t remember the last time she was sick.
“If we were eating wholefoods instead of packaged foods, we’d be 100 per cent better off. Food is our medicine, food heals,” she said.
At her Organics2You shop at Daley’s Point, shelves are brimming with everything from sprouted bread to Swiss mushrooms and persimmon to pomegranate.
Catering to any food allergy or intolerance, there are rows of bulk goods including white quinoa, black wild rice, buckwheat, amaranth, coconut flour and cacao powder.
The shop also offers vegan, protein and paleo bars, a rainbow of Pukka tea boxes and high frequency food including super greens.
You’ll even find mung bean fettuccine and wheatgrass, which seemingly didn’t go out of vogue in the 90s, and raw treats by local business In8ly Good.
Locals can order small, medium or large boxes of 100 per cent certified organic fruit and veg collected fresh from Sydney market and delivered to their door twice a week.
It’s always seasonal, always organic and packaged with recycled boxes from the markets.
Janine and Sonia also pride themselves on keeping waste to a minimum, encouraging their customers to leave used packaging out with boxes so it can be refilled and recycled.
They have a worm farm at their Kincumber warehouse and any surplus food scraps create compost at Janine’s two-acre property where the nutrient rich plant food can be seen at work.
Fruit trees are laden with vibrant spheres of tangelo, lemon, mandarin and orange; pumpkin grows wild in green patches; and kale, parsley and fennel has sprouted organically from a random pile of mulch.
Janine is growing so much turmeric, there’s talk of adding the golden root to Nurtured Earth’s popular organic ginger beer, which you might have tried at a local event or Avoca Beachside Markets.
There is also turmeric aplenty at Greengate, a market garden on a quarter acre at Killcare. Run by local green thumbs Lauren Shoveller and Ali Bishop, it’s an organic patch which follows permaculture principles.
There are giant low-hanging pomelos, parsley running wild, neat rows of spiky organic garlic and salad greens galore from curly kale to cavolo nero.
What has been a labour of love of five years is fast becoming a business with Ali and Lauren supplying local businesses like Nurtured Earth and consuming a fair bit themselves.
“We’re our number one customer,” Ali joked.
Having become accustomed to the taste of fresh organic food, Ali is more likely to pop into the farm than a supermarket to get some ingredients for dinner on the way home to Booker Bay. She also uses her own nutritionally dense produce in her Pachamama catering business and ready-to-heat meals.
“Just growing it and picking it fresh and eating it, makes such a difference. It tastes so much better,” Ali said.
“There’s no way I’m buying salad greens from the supermarket,” Lauren, a mother-of-two from Wamberal, added.
“That’s why we did this, to have fresh food. It’s not just about the quality and the cost, it’s a love for gardening. We like to reap what we sow.”
They are about to start sowing what could very well be the next superfood – yacón.
A daisy species grown in the northern and central Andes, it’s set to be the biggest thing to come out of South America since chia and quinoa.
Meaning “water root” in the Inca language, the tuber is surprisingly moist, like a pear, even though it resembles a sweet potato in appearance.
It’s this vegetable’s high levels of indigestible sugar which make it so special. It’s sweet but without the calories, making it a potential game-changer for diabetics.
Yacón is also a prebiotic (not to be confused with probiotic), meaning it feeds the good bacteria in your gut and can boost the immune system while aiding digestion.
Lauren and Ali think this magical tuber, also known as Peruvian ground apple, could be the next kale.
Since doing their research on yacón, the pair have invested in the crop and are looking forward to harvesting their first big batch later this year.
Resembling a sunflower plant only with smaller yellow flowers, there are rows and rows of yacón at Greengate Garden.
Organic food is something that Australians are increasingly willing to fork out a few more dollars for with a recent Australian Organic report finding that more than two-thirds of all Australian households bought at least one organic product last year.
While there is no doubt that choosing organic will hit your hip pocket (unless you grow it yourself), Nurtured Earth did a price comparison between organic produce and regular supermarket vegetables and found it only costs about $15 more per shop.
“For our customers, good food is their priority,” Janine said.
According to Amanda, “You pay a bit more but your health is worth it”.
Or do as Ali and Lauren do and grow your own. “Just go into the garden and do it. It’s the best way to learn,” Lauren said.
A bunch of tips from the Coast’s organic queens:
To get the most out of your fresh produce store potatoes away from the light, put beans in a container with a paper towel, keep herbs in a jar of water after you’ve trimmed the stems and watch out for bananas – they ripen everything around them.
With the winter lurgy lurking, stay healthy with lots of organic citrus and natural supplements like olive leaf and Echinacea.
Since kale toppled wheatgrass as the clean green king, it gets consumed in all manner of ways. While eating it raw is the best way to consume all its goodness, lightly cooking it can help your body digest it. Add some lemon juice to cooked kale to help with iron absorption.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. Amanda regularly cooks ‘nachos without the nasties’ for her kids using refried beans, a tin of organic tomatoes, Nimbin cheese, hummus, flaxseed organic chips and any leftover vegies from the fridge.
Start your own organic patch at home. Janine says it’s as simple as finding a spot in your yard, raking up some leaves to make mulch and adding some food scraps – something will grow, she says.