Feeding demand for organic produce

Posted on March 6, 2016 | Comments Off on Feeding demand for organic produce

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Going green: Victoria Carey, the owner of the Day Kitty cafe and organic grocer in Kepler St: “Customers were asking to buy organic produce and I’d always wanted to diversity the café.”

Victoria Carey, a long-time supporter of Bluestone, is also providing one free organic fruit and vegie box for us to give away to one lucky new subscriber. The first five new yearly subscribers will go in the draw. Full details here.

Words and images by Louise North

Alittle over two years ago, former scientist Victoria Carey opened a cafe that put something entirely new into the mouths of Warrnambool cafe-goers.

Day Kitty’s menu was based almost entirely on using organic produce (see our earlier story here) – from coffee, to icecream to nuts and pulses and everything in between.

Today, Victoria has taken that concept full circle by not only using organic food in the Day Kitty kitchen, in Kepler St, but actually selling fresh organic produce direct to the customer.

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And again, this is a new thing for Warrnambool.

In the past, some organic produce has been sold by a couple of local outlets, but not the range found in Day Kitty.

When Bluestone visited, a fresh load of seasonal vegetables and fruit had just been delivered to the door from the Melbourne market.

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Day Kitty is now a hybrid of cafe and organic grocery after Victoria’s decision to diversify into selling fresh organic produce and groceries.

Walking into the café is certainly a heady olfactory experience with the mix of herbal teas and fresh spring onions, apples and lemons all vying for attention.

The fresh produce is delivered three times a week and the product range includes local organic butter and cheeses, dips, tofu, tempeh, tea, spices, oil, pulses, wholegrains, seeds, popcorn and even organic eggs from Camperdown producer Bushdrift Organic Farm, and recycled loo paper from the perfectly titled, Who Gives a Crap.

“Customers were asking to buy organic produce and I’d always wanted to diversity the café,” Victoria said, so she took the leap and even built the timber stands herself.

“The people that come into the café are customers who ask the questions about where their food is coming from.”

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Silverbeet has never looked so colourful or tasty. While organic food costs a little more, it also costs more to produce because of the careful certification process that ensures its quality.

The growing demand for green food has been spurred on by recent food scares where frozen berries and later leafy greens were found to be contaminated.

And as the slightly higher cost is usually the first thing that deters people from organic food, the fact is that buying in-season organic produce doesn’t cost much more than buying out-of-season fruit and vegetables from the large supermarket chains.

The added cost for organic is because of the cost of certification for producers ($20,000) and the seven years it takes to ensure that the soil is free from previous contaminants.  Even the water used must be free of fluoride.

Victoria’s interest in organic food began early, when she dug her own vegie patch as a kid.

“My grandparents (who lived in Yambuk) grew everything they ate and I enjoyed my gardening and loved the taste of home-grown food, but you always ended up with a glut of one type of fruit or vegetable,” she laughs.

Now, Victoria has no time to grow her own,  and I’m guessing there are a few of us around like that, but she has a great variety of organic food to choose from now!

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Victoria with a variety of organic heirloom pumpkins, including Barbara butternut and jap.

Victoria also provides pre-ordered organic fruit and vegie boxes once a week. Customers collect from the café at 53 Kepler St. Boxes cost $45 or $65. Day Kitty is open Mon to Fri 8-4.30 and Sat 9-2.30. Ph: 5561 6921 Find them on Facebook here.

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