Tag Archives: Grow your Own

Free Food Movement

1 Mar

Just over 5 years ago I was walking through an inner Sydney city suburb when I spotted a number of bunches of rosemary on a brick wall. It was outside of a church and incidentally they had been trimming their rosemary bushes that lined the walk-way. Next to the bunches was a handwritten note that said “Take me – Free”!

I remember at the time thinking wouldn’t it be great to have an app that enabled someone to locate free food like this. And like most innovations, it’s easy to have the idea but harder to follow through and implement it.

5 years on there’s 2 sites doing just this that I want to share and spread the word.

Ripe Near Me

While it’s still in it’s Beta phase the site is slickly designed, highly useable and makes adding and finding free food far too easy for anyone not to use it.

It’s a Google maps mashup with a quick locality search. The food icons look to be unique for their massive range of produce and you post your own food, food you spot (aka wild) and can give it away for free or charge a nominal amount.

Wild Food

Diego Bonetto is a self proclaimed expert in weeds and i’m not going to argue about that. He learn’t much of his knowledge from his parents in and growing up in Italy where foraging for wild food was still the norm.

I was lucky enough to meet Diego a number of years ago on an art exhibition / wild food tour day. The art exhibition was a number of plaques around Sydney CBD explaining the types of animals you’d find from rats, pigeons and even foxes. The wild food tour was at the Casula powerhouse grounds and was really an intro to the world of edible weeds. You can learn more about Diego here.

However of relevance to this post is Diego’s initiative Wild Food. Like Ripe Near Me the site is well designed and very easy to use. What’s great is that the site uses the mobile platform a little more encouraging people to take a photo, tag the location and either upload it direct or hashtag it on instagram where it’ll be automatically added.

It also has a wealth of information about the various wild food such as the culinary or medicinal value.

Both sites have implemented the idea and cater for different audiences. Combined they are an excellent resource for locavores, frugal eaters or anyone interested in Free Food!

If you haven’t already, join up and contribute to both. The bigger the better!

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Spring onions vs green onions vs scallion vs shallots

7 Dec

Let’s start with clarifying what I mean by spring onions. It’s a confusing vegetable particularly in Australia and could be the cause of messed up dinners due to international differences.

Let’s go through them.

The most common, in my experience, is the Allium Cepa – this is your gold old garden variety onions with brown/golden skin and one of them fits nicely in your hand.

Then we move down in size to what I believe the Americans call Spring Onions and Australian’s call Spring Onions (sometimes), also known as Allium cepa var. aggregatum. Note it’s the same family of Allium cepa but of a botanical variety (i.e. characterised by it’s similarities with other species) of aggregatum. These are your small golden bulbs that a more elongated than your usual Allium Cepa (normal onions).

Scallions

Now this is where things get confusing. What do you call the long green leaves that are onion tasting and no bulb….It depends on where you live and they’ll either be:

  • Eschallot / Shallot
  • Spring Onions
  • Green Onions
  • Scallion

Most commonly in NSW at least we call them Spring Onions or Shallots. However they are more technically called scallions. But again they could be “Welsh Onions”.

Jumping onto Wiki (BTW I recently donated some $ to keep it free – highly suggest you do the same) we can get it’s view.

  • Allium ascalonicumknown as eschallots or shallots. These are small golden bulbs similar to small general variety onion (Allium cepa). If you have recipie that calls for Shallots or even Spring Onions and you need to add it very early in the cooking process (like normal onions) – this is probably what they are talking about.
  • Allium fistulosum – also known as a “Welsh Onion” which will never grow a bulb. These are sold as long green leaves in bunches of 4 or 5.
  • Scallion – pretty much the leaves of any of the above and indeed any leaves of the Allium family that haven’t yet formed a bulbous root.

The last 2 you’ll add these late in the cooking process and really don’t want a strong onion flavour – stir frys for instance or added raw to a potato salad.

Still confused? I’m not surprised. At the end of the day you want to think about they “WHY” you are putting in an Allium family plant.

  • Is it for strong flavour (normal onion (Allum Ceda) or Garlic)?
  • Mild flavour (bulbous alliums like the Allium ascalonicum)? 
  • Subtle flavour (green leaves like scallions or chives)?
  • Visual appeal (subtle red onions, scallions or chives)?

Some good links that might help clarify are:

I wonder if there are other names people use?

My next post will be how to get a life time supply of scallions  / green onions almost for free! I haven’t bought any for over 5 years and have more than I need!