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History of Australian food

Based on Current Australian food trends in 2017 what is your view point of trends in 2018 and beyond.

The food industry in Australia had humble beginnings and with the arrival of Anglo-australians agriculture and animal husbandry started about 200 years ago. The indigenous people remained hunter gatherers before joining the mainstream. The use of meat, dairy, wheat, vegetables and fruit was the mainstay of the Australian diet. Much of the progress in the food market occurred after automation happened in the post world war II period, the advent of railways, motor vehicles and refrigeration allowed the food industry to process foods on a large scale. The convergence of people from several countries on Australian soil saw the restaurant industry catering to a clientele that wanted to try a variety of cuisines. Chinese, Vietnamese, Greek, Italian, Japanese and other cuisines were appreciated and continue to remain in demand. Television commercials promoted marketing of processed foods and continues to influence people's food choices. Trends in food change every year and sustainable foods, healthy foods and foods that customer's demand have to be provided by the industry. Indigenous foods have also begun to appear on dining tables across Australia.

The indigenous people were hunter gatherers and not known for culinary skills. Their food is referred to as Bush Tucker and is known for its benefits in prevention of disease  Most of the history of Australian food began when the British settlers arrived. They knew how to domesticate animals and plants and brought culinary skills from their land. The rations on the first fleet were straight from the English grocers and included bread, cheese and oatmeal, vinegar, dried peas and salted meat. In the coming years these were replaced by foods from countries closer to Australia and India, China and the south east countries shipped sugar, tea, flour and salted meat with local spirits. The only recipe guide from in1864 was authored by Caroline Chisholm that gave recipes for seven different ways to combine meat and flour. Upto 1880, most of the food other than meat was imported, but then the railways opened up the possibility of transporting agricultural produce - wheat, sugar, fruit and milk became freely available. Before the refrigerator became common, milk, bread, green grocery, meat and even ice were delivered to homes. Then came the era of the first processed foods. Rosella's tomato sauce, IXL jams, Arnott's biscuits, Small's and MacRobertson's chocolates and the white flour from Roller mills came into the Australian markets and then households. Beer gained the status of the national drink around 1888, when the American beer sold under the brand of Foster's, sold their product bottled and pasteurized.

How has multiculturalism impacted on hospitality and food industries


Baking gained status when the raw ingredients - eggs, flour, butter, desiccated coconut, cornflakes and cookbooks with recipes on cakes and puddings became commonplace. Gas-fired and wood-fired ovens became common in households and baking at home caught the fancy of Australians. Lamingtons, shepherd's pie and Irish stew made popular Sunday lunches. these developments occurred in 1900. Cooking in homes did not change much until the 1950s when in the post world war II era, the ammunition factories started manufacturing refrigerators and cars for domestic use. By 1955, according to records from Kelvinator, 70% homes had a fridge. this brought in the era of frozen foods. Supermarket aisles now had the refrigerated sections and since then a multitude of frozen foods invaded the Australian tables. Cars facilitated the transport of food to homes. Consumption must have soared around the same time.

Around the same time Australians began to travel for leisure and brought home food experiences from Italy, France and the rest of Europe. Cookbooks featuring foreign cuisines became routine and the restaurant industry took off, a 12-14% growth in the eating out industry started taking place by the 1960s. The next innovation that had taken the then food industry by storm was- television, that became common during the 1956 Olympic games. Marketing, packaging, advertising and increasing diversity of available foods saw the major food chains start operations and take-away food became common.


The use of zucchinis, capsicums, artichokes, garlic and eggplants began in the 50s due to Italian and Greek influences. The 60s saw the advent of frozen meals and McDonald's, Kentucky and Pizza Hut into Australia. The influence of American food culture had entered the continent and large portions, family packs, sugared beverages, high fat chips and patties were soon becoming staples of the new generation.

Since then Australian food has evolved and has its own cuisine. The meat pie, the Pavlova - the dessert meringue and the Anzac (Australia and New Zealand Army Core- World War I)  biscuits are uniquely Australian in origin.

Due to its proximity to Asia, many Asians settled in Australia and brought in their food influences. Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian restaurants dot cityscapes - from street food to fine dining, to please customer palates as they cater to an Australia that has become increasingly multicultural. Japanese, Greek, Lebanese and Malaysian cuisine in restaurants became common place. Most of these restaurants marked the presence of immigrants from these countries, with many being run by ethnic restaurateurs. Later, the arrival of the Syrians, the Turkish,  the Greek and the Germans added their culinary traditions (Symons, 2014).

Current food trends

Many food outlets now cater to what is termed as the contemporary Australian gourmand. Kiwifruit, sun-dried tomatoes, pork belly and spices such as, star anise were first adopted by culinary chefs, found favour with home cooks and now have become integral to the Australian food scene and are stocked in supermarkets. The celebrity chefs and their expertise has catapulted the gastronomic scene to dizzying heights. The use of food ingredients from all parts of the world and the techniques used for cooking  are an area of dynamic growth and delight food lovers and relay new ideas to viewers of shows such as MasterChef.

The modern Australian may even be an advocate of sustainable food choices. As broilers chicken is replaced with free range ones, growing herbs on window sills is a trend that signals a return to roots. The changed food pyramid that has vegetables and fruit in place of cereals signals an era of changed food choices for health reasons. Sugary beverages are on their way out and are being replaced with fermented beverages, such as, ginger beer, coconut kefir and kombucha (Boys, 2017). Their probiotic benefits are a big hit with a generation that wants to prevent cancer, diabetes and obesity with foods. In 2017, Mediterranean cuisine saw an upswing in the culinary market due to the healthy 'tag' on olive oil, fruit, salads, and use of fresh produce. Lean meat alternatives of smoked elk, carpaccio and venison tartare replaced the red meats. The techniques of charring, smoking and blistering are a current rage on the chef's menus. Cardamom, cumin and turmeric are the heroes among the spices, largely due to their novelty and health benefits. The use of cayenne pepper in chocolates and ice-creams has taken experimental palates to a different zone. Cocktails have derived inspiration from the South American continent (Finedininglovers, 2017). Vegan food made a weak beginning but the variety of food and the insistence of the clients, the food industry has responded with a rich variety of vegan foods. The health benefits have helped people fight and prevent lifestyle diseases (Ausfoodnews, /top-foodie-trends-for-the-remainder-of-2016.html, 2016).

The demand for healthy food and beverages at restaurants has forced chefs to revamp menus and introduce fare that has healthy ingredients (Ausfoodnews, restaurants-feel-pinch-healthy-food-hits-takings.html, 2016). It may have  lowered their profits due to the high costs of healthy ingredients, but the trend is here to stay. The competitiveness of the restaurant industry may not allow profit margins to increase just yet (Ausfoodnews, /food-trends).

Considering the food trends that have dominated the food scene in 2017, 2018 is likely to continue with the trend for healthy food from across the world cuisines. Vegetarian food may become a trend and faux meat made with vegetarian ingredients could become a trend. Use of ancient grains, such as, lesser known millets from around the world could be used in food and fermented for beverages. Coconut could continue being the super food ingredient for 2018 and much of its potential can continue to be explored. Consumption of sugar by consumers may hit an all time low and more and more processed food with savoury tastes may hit shelves. The demand for authentic food from distant locales may require that chefs trained in authentic food preparation will be in demand. Preference for organic foods will see demand increase for foods without chemical additives. Fancy foods from areas that remain unexplored could become a new craze. Indulging in lean foods could be the new fad.

It is only now that some acceptance to indigenous food choices is emerging among the settlers. Consumption of Kangaroo meat is now legal and is stocked in supermarkets. Since it is a lean meat it conforms to the present day trend of eating healthy meat. Consumption of beef has gone down, due to exports owing to its popularity in the Asian market and because chicken is considered healthier than beef. Several other foods from the Bush tuck has made inroads into mainstream cuisine (Symons, 2014). This trend of rediscovering cuisine from their own land is rather unique to Australia. As the world goes local with their preferences for food, Australia's hidden gems in 'local' are being experienced for the first time ever (Newton & Ashton, 2016). Quangdongs, akudjura or bush tomatoes have only recently been tried by the Anglo-australians, who otherwise have become not just multicultural but multiculinary as they embrace the food brought in by immigrants from all over the world (Sbs, 2015).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the evolution of the food industry in Australia has been interesting. The continent has been a melting pot of several cultures and this has impacted the food scenario. Like all countries, Australia moved from a society that had to bear food rations to a time of plenty. The multitude of available food choices from all over the world have evolved the market for raw, cooked and processed food into a mature market that boasts of variety and quality. The current trend of sustainable agriculture, preference for meat from free range farm animals has replaced that of mechanisation in food production. Healthy foods and low sugar consumption are the newer trends that the food industry is fast adapting to.

References

Ausfoodnews. (n.d.). /food-trends. Retrieved from https://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/: https://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/tag/food-trends

Ausfoodnews. (2016, August 29). /top-foodie-trends-for-the-remainder-of-2016.html. Retrieved from https://www.ausfoodnews.com.au: https://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2016/08/29/top-foodie-trends-for-the-remainder-of-2016.html

Ausfoodnews. (2016, October 17). restaurants-feel-pinch-healthy-food-hits-takings.html. Retrieved from https://www.ausfoodnews.com.au: https://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2016/10/17/restaurants-feel-pinch-healthy-food-hits-takings.html

Boys, C. (2017, January 5). food-and-drink-predictions-for-2017-20161219-gte8kh. Retrieved from https://www.goodfood.com.au: https://www.goodfood.com.au/eat-out/news/food-and-drink-predictions-for-2017-20161219-gte8kh

Finedininglovers. (2017). food-and-drink-trends-2017/. Retrieved from https://www.finedininglovers.com: https://www.finedininglovers.com/blog/news-trends/food-and-drink-trends-2017/

Newton, J., & Ashton, P. (2016). /opinion-can-we-be-australian-without-eating-indigenous-food/. Retrieved from https://www.australiangeographic.com.au: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2016/05/opinion-can-we-be-australian-without-eating-indigenous-food/

Sbs. (2015, May 20). about-native-australian-food. Retrieved from https://www.sbs.com.au: https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2008/07/01/about-native-australian-food

Symons, M. (2014). /australias-cuisine-culture-a-history-of-food. Retrieved from https://www.australiangeographic.com.au: https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2014/06/australias-cuisine-culture-a-history-of-food

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