“Grown and Gathered” Book Review and Giveaway
Eat Local Ballarat received two complimentary copies of “Grown and Gathered, to review and giveaway, for this post.
“Grown and Gathered” is a modern Australian guide to local eating and connecting with your place through food. Matt and Lentil farm a few acres at Tahbilk in central Victoria (north of Melbourne, about 160km from Ballarat). Matt grows food and Lentil grows flowers, and together they supply restaurants, their own household and a network of friends they discovered when they started to barter.
The book opens with the words “We live a good life. We’re so lucky.” With the help of great mentors, connections, and family support Matt and Lentil have built a successful business and fulfiling life using “beyond organic” methods to farm their land. While not everyone lives on acreage or has access to the same resources, Grown and Gathered’s approach is down to earth and encouraging no matter where you’re starting from.
What’s in the book?
While a good 2/3 of the book is recipes, there’s a strong introductory section to help you understand the “why” of local and seasonal eating.
“Observe” takes you through a year of nature and growing in central Victoria, tracking the weather, crops, and activities through the year.
“To grow and to live with the seasons means to observe the constant changes in your environment, to respond at the right times, and to thrive off what nature provides.”
“Grow” talks about growing your own food. While it covers everything you’d expect on the topic, its real stand-out feature is the chart of seasonal crops for a climate quite like ours.
“Gather” shows you how to feast on wild foods, from mushrooms and weeds to rabbits and carp. Whole books could be (and have been) written on this so their introduction is quite brief.
“Nurture” introduces you to raising livestock for milk, eggs, or meat. They advocate an old-fashioned approach to animal husbandry, raising heirloom breeds and using natural methods to keep them healthy. Again, a brief introduction but enough to get you started.
I found “Trade” to be one of the most interesting chapters. It describes Matt and Lentil’s decision to try to barter for things wherever possible, instead of using money. They discovered a sense of abundance and made life-changing connections.
“Seek” talks about where we buy food, and encourages us to think about imported foods as “5% foods”, making up no more than a small fraction of our diets. Their “5% foods” include coffee, chocolate, spices, and other specialty items.
Recipes for local and seasonal eating
“We realised that we had been slowly separated from our food one meal at a time. Once upon a time, our food was either grown by us or by our neighbours. Then it was grown ten kilometres away. Then it was available in nicely packaged parcels in small, local stores. Then came the convenience of the supermarkets. And finally, the ultimate demise: pre-packaged meals and fast food. It all just kind of snuck up on us. We weren’t to know.”
“Eat” is by far the largest section of the book, with recipes for a wide range of foods based on a local/regional/seasonal diet. It follows a lot of the modern trends in advocating whole and fermented foods, using natural animal fats and less refined sugars, and making most things from scratch. Many recipes are gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian/vegan, or fit more than one of these descriptions.
There are recipes for staples including sourdough breads and pancakes; homemade dairy including yoghurt, cheese and butter; meat and vegetable stocks; and condiments including mustard and mayonnaise.
A bulky chapter on preserves includes hot-lid and Fowlers methods for preserving fruit and veg, fermenting, and other techniques such as how to make your own bacon or tuna in oil. Unlike many preserving books out of the US or UK, this one is well attuned to our climate and available produce, so packs a lot of useful information into just one chapter.
Breakfasts, sharing dishes, vegetables, main dishes and celebrations each get a chapter. Again, the ingredients for dishes like “Miso eggplant with green beans”, “Greens and kimchi pancakes”, “Roast beetroot and lemon dip”, “Wild mushroom and weed ravioli” and “Spring chicken soup” are all seasonal and regional and resonate well with our climate and food culture.
(You can find some recipes from the book, and many more, on the Grown and Gathered website.)
Win a copy of “Grown and Gathered”
All in all I thought this was a fantastic book, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for some local/seasonal inspiration or a way to kickstart an effort at living and eating more locally.
I’ve got a spare copy to give away to readers of Eat Local Ballarat. To win a copy of “Grown and Gathered”, tag us on social media with a comment or photo describing something you’ve grown or gathered (or would like to grow or gather) in and around Ballarat.
- On Facebook: tag “Eat Local Ballarat” and include a link to this blog post.
- On Twitter: tag @eatlocalblrt and include a link to this blog post.
- On Instagram: tag #eatlocalballarat and #grownandgathered (must include BOTH tags)
We’ll announce a winner on November 30th. The book will be available for pickup in central Ballarat.