What is Real Food and Why is There a Festival for It?

The Real Food Festival is coming up soon in Maleny in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast.  It’s one of my favourite festivals and this year I’ve been asked to participate by giving a presentation on why people like to write about food.

Real Food Festival

So what IS “real food”?  Let’s first talk about what ISN’T real food.   Have a look at what’s in a chicken finger from a fast food joint or all the creepy fats and chemicals in store bought cookies – that’s not real food.

Real food is what our relatives ate before big agricultural companies took over all food production and changed it from real food to food they could make money on.  They took out the good bits and replaced them with chemicals so they’d have a longer shelf life.  We are suffering from that.

Real Food Festival

The Real Food Festival celebrates food that is local, food that not only nourishes consumers but also provides a living wage for producers and food that tastes good.  Real food comes from healthy soil, good unmodified seeds and pure water –  that’s what we’re excited about.

Do we know where our food comes from?   Who are the farmers?  What are their passions?  The Real Food Festival puts us all together.  The best bit is that the prices for admission are  only $15 and kids under 16 are free.

Eating a pizza in a treeReal food is more than just what’s in a label full of ingredients you can’t pronounce.  It’s about animal welfare as well.  After having chickens of my own, I would never buy a caged egg nor would I buy a chicken whose entire life was spent in less than a square meter of space.  I want meat from pigs who got to go outside and play in the mud.  Real food is about having respect and making a commitment to doing better.

The festival starts on Saturday the 7th of September and there’s so much to see and do and it’s a festival for the whole family.  Kids are encouraged to come.  I went last year and could easily have spent the entire two days there and not seen everything.  There are several venues and I can’t be in two places at once.  I hope to catch up on a few presentations I missed out on last year!

Spun Fairy Floss

And yes, I heard you ask, “Is there food?”  Well, certainly.  Visitors to the Real Food Festival can eat food from around the world.  I know I did last year.  I still remember the stall that sold sauteed mushrooms.  I thought, “Mushrooms?  Weird.”  Until I ate some!  There will be Burma In Ya Belly providing Burmese food, Asian street food, Russian fudge, Australian Bush Foods from my good pal chef Peter Wolfe (who is also a presenter), German sausages and so much more.

Heaps of my friends will be be there.  You’ve heard me (seen me?) talk about my friends Paul and Genevieve who own Spun Fairy Floss?  They’ll be there.  Maleny Dairies and the Maleny Cheese Company are on the list too along with Thermomix.

Chris Klaas Photography

I met Chris Klaas, my good friend and favourite food photographer for the first time at last year’s Real Food Festival and he’ll be doing a presentation on styling food this year.  I’ll be in the front seat if I don’t have to help out at the festival.  I have volunteered to do whatever they might need.

Peter Brettell, the chef in the presentation I did on the chef, the photographer and the blogger, will be doing a presentation on how to make gnocchi from scratch.  Lorraine (NQN) and I (and others) ate at Peter’s restaurant Wild Rocket at Misty’s in Montville when she visited earlier this year.

I’m really looking forward to meeting Yvonne from Baranbali Farm.  She’s the one who came up with the Irish Brick Cake that Lizzie told us about.  I plan to bow down before her and find out if she’s got any other amazing recipes.

Permaculture designer and friend Cath Manuel will be teaching everyone how to grow food in any garden.  Everyone can grow some sort of food – even I have a herb garden in pots that looks fantastic.

I’ve told you before about my friend Iris who owns the How to Cook store in Cotton Tree where I often go to a cooking demonstration on Friday mornings – she’s going to be presenting this year teaching us how to decorate an ombre rose cake.  It’s not a free presentation to miss!

Cameron MatthewsThe presentations and cooking demonstrations are the stars for me.  Cameron Matthews from The Long Apron at Spicer’s Clovelly Estate will be doing another whiz bang presentation.

Last year he presented steak on a charred piece of wood and accompanied it by mashed potatoes cooked in straw and a deep fried spring onion.  Seriously amazing.  Cameron did the cooking class I went to with my sister when she was here.

Remember the panna cotta I made? His recipe.

Cameron Matthews Steak Presentation

When I did the Dilmah High Tea Challenge finals, my assistant was May King Tsang who owns a tea business and she’s going to be talking about how to make the perfect cup of tea.

Newsflash!  I just found out that my good pal Martin Duncan is going to be the MC in the chefs venue.  If you’re from Southeast Queensland you’ll know that Martin owns Freestyle Tout in Fortitude Valley and Freestyle Escape Cooking and Art School on the Sunshine Coast as well as upscale tourist accommodation.

It wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realised how many people I respect in the local area for their approach to food.  I’m very lucky to live in a food growing region that is close to the ocean and has perfect weather.

Then we get to me!  Local farmer’s market / butcher, Jeffers Market, is sponsoring a venue called Nourishing Ideas and I’m going to talk about why people love to blog about food.  We don’t do it for the money, so what satisfaction does it give us to work ridiculous hours for little or no money and we can’t stop?  Show up on Sunday, the 8th of September at 2:30pm and I’ll tell you.

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  1. says

    Ah I remember spun fairy floss from last year! =D
    I think festivals like that should be held everywhere in the world. I really miss these kind of things here in Goa. It’s a nice outing and you get to meet some inspiring people who make the best of food. Comes handy when you are looking for your future homemade jam provisions (we collect jam!).
    You better get John to make a video of you talking in the real food festival Maureen! =P

    • says

      This is a festival “of the people” and you can tell by the admission price. It’s affordable for every family who are encouraged to talk to the farmers, producers and chefs.

  2. says

    Sounds like an amazing festival, Maureen. To me, real food is food that does not have a label telling customers how many calories are in it and it’s good that festivals like this create awareness. I know that ‘real’ food often costs a bit more but I buy it whenever I can and try to encourage others to do the same.

  3. Eha says

    I am clapping loudly enough for you to hear me a thousand kilometres north . . . I DO wish I was there . . . I guess if one has to shop in a supermarket [and I mostly do] the ‘real food’, at least the best I can access, is on that famous walk around the periphery of the store! Have fun . . . :) !

  4. says

    Food is not just fuel or otherwise that reconstituted meals for astronauts or those nasty minute meals for the airforce and army would count too. That my dear is what we call fuel, not real food.

    I love watching real people gather who are passionate about their real food. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this year due to health issues , but love attending the Hong Kong food and tea fair every year. These individuals are passionate about their products and I love testing them. Great post Maureen. Have a super weekend, BAM

  5. says

    Isn’t it fabulous you have so many kindred spirits in your area? I’d spend the two days just eating my way around the stalls. Great shout out Maureen and good luck with your presentation – shame we can’t youtube it.

  6. says

    I wish I could come, but its my daughter’s birthday :-)….and I’m nowhere close to Australia! I love the ethos behind this meet-up. Really, life is a lot about treating things with respect, and kindness. I think in a bid to make more gains, and grow bigger things, we compromise our ideals and values…and end up in a worse place, so I fully support initiatives like this.

    Even if I’m too far away to eat some good, real food in the southern hemisphere.


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