As its title suggests The Field Guide to Victorian Produce is a comprehensive guide to all things local in Victoria, making it easy for anyone to buy, eat and drink local produce that is far simpler to source than most of us realise. And with 105 grower profiles, 179 producer profiles, 71 provider profiles, information on food trails, farm stays and a directory of farmers markets, food festivals and other foodie events, it’s a must-have for the culinary set.
The sheer volume of information is enough to amaze readers at how little many Victorians know about the small farms and independent producers setting up shop all around the state. And like a bible, the guidebook advises readers on the main commandments of sustainable consumption: ‘thou shalt eat local’ and ‘thou shalt try to buy seasonal produce’. Indeed, with what so many local growers, producers and sellers, the guide challenges us to ditch the easy option of simply going to the supermarket.
Interviews with 11 chefs (or ‘food disciples’) with a handle on the tips and tricks of regional feed (including Stephanie Aexander, Andrew McConnell and Dan Hunter), give personal insights on buying, cooking and consuming fresh local produce, and how it not only makes for better results in the kitchen but supports the local food industry. Alla Wolf-Tasker of Lake House says it best in her interview: “’Fresh is best’ is a reality here and not just a supermarket slogan.”
Some of Melbourne’s design and publishing heavyweights also had a hand in putting the guide together, with Ewan McEoin (The Melbourne & Sydney Design Guides) as editor, Scottie Cameron contributing with colourful photographs of produce and Matthew Angel taking the helm on the design.
From foodies, chefs to the occasional home cook, this locavore’s bible is an indispensable guide to buying local and supporting small business around Victoria. The guide will be updated yearly, with plans to create future issues for other states too.