Restaurant recognised for organic commitment

Posted by Isobel Drake on 3rd October 2008

Peasants Feast Restaurant (Newton, Sydney) has again been recognised as one of just a few accredited organic restaurants around Australia by the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA).

With organic popularity on the rise, restaurants and cafes nation-wide are working to incorporate more organic ingredients into chemically-conscious meals, but few give the assurance of an organic logo on the menu. An exception is Dr. Robert Warlow, founder of Peasant’s Feast, who began the challenge of maintaining the organic audit trail from farm to fork, five years ago.

A medical practitioner specialising in immunology, hospitality was never an obvious next step for Dr. Warlow, but he reports that an on-going observation of the positive effects good food had on health motivated him to put his professional practise on the table. “It was becoming undeniably apparent that fast and processed foods were behind the problems I was seeing in my patients on a regular basis,” Dr. Warlow suggested. “So I decided to take control of one small section of the food production system myself!”

Going as close to 100% organic as possible has not been easy for the restaurant but they remain committed to the concept. “I went with organic because it was very clear that allergic diseases were more common in people who consume non-organic products which almost always include artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, and so on,” he said. “And from an agricultural perspective, I knew organic farmers were at the forefront of best practice principles avoiding synthetic fertilisers, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. But at the end of the day I’d never had any experience in hospitality – It was an incredibly difficult challenge to get all ingredients as consistently close to 100% organic as we could – but we’ve almost managed to do it.”

“Everything except our shellfish is now organic.”

The health benefits of organics are boosted by additional strict cooking principles, with food prepared with reduced salt, no sugar or deep-frying, and cooked at low temperatures. Dishes cater to every kind of eater – from coeliac to wheat and lactose intolerant, gluten free, diabetic and vegan.

Dr. Andrew Monk, BFA Standards Chair, believes certified organic restaurants raise the bar for industry overall. “While it’s great that more businesses in the food-service sector are looking towards organic, restaurants and cafes which become certified can guarantee their food’s authenticity and integrity,” he noted. “There is so much care taken at the beginning of organic production and organic farmers must adhere to stringent organic principles and standards – it is fantastic to see this carried through right to the point of consumption, and something we undoubtedly encourage more retailers and restaurants to do.”